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November 2004 News Archives


  • News and Rumors from November 30, 2004

  • “The NASCAR Art of Sam Bass” Book Available: There is a story behind every Sam Bass creation. A tale of how each illustration came about and exactly what the artist is conveying through the strokes of his brush. Sam’s new book, “The NASCAR Art of Sam Bass,” goes behind the scenes with motor racing’s most celebrated artist to give fans an insider’s look into the mindset that spawned some of his most compelling compositions. The book is punctuated with dozens of full color images of many of Sam’s most popular works accompanied by an in-depth commentary of each. It not only chronicles his original paintings and limited edition prints, but also other collectibles he has designed over the years, including trading card sets and custom shop guitars.
    Published by David Bull Publishing, “The NASCAR Art of Sam Bass” was co-written by Sam himself and noted author Brad Bowling. It’s Sam’s story, told in his own words. This is the only publication to chronicle the career of the first artist officially licensed by NASCAR.
    “The NASCAR Art of Sam Bass” is offered in two editions, both in a 9″ x 11″ coffee table format. The soft cover edition contains 160 pages and more than 75 full color illustrations. It is available for $24.95, plus shipping. The hardbound “Publisher’s Edition” is limited to only 312 books, with each signed and numbered by the author. This very special collectible features 190 pages and more than 90 full color illustrations. Included are many never-before-published works from Sam’s personal portfolio. The Publisher’s Edition is offered for $89.95, plus shipping. More info at sambass.com.(11-30-2004)
  • Army Helicopters Borrow NASCAR Windshield Technology: A laminate that protects NASCAR racecar windshields from rocks and debris will soon give extra protection to Army helicopters flying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va., started testing the concept in March and just got the green light to begin applying the Mylar polyester coating to the windshields of operational aircraft. Nathan Bordick, an engineer working on the project, said the Army borrowed the idea from NASCAR, where teams have been applying multiple layers of the peelable coatings to vehicle windshields for years to resist cracking, chipping and scratching. Periodically throughout a race, pit crews peel away a layer, leaving a clear, undamaged windshield for the laps ahead, he said.(American Forces Press Service / Conservative Voice.(11-30-2004)
  • MRN Donates Broadcasts: “The Pass in the Grass” and Richard Petty’s 200th career victory are part of NASCAR’s storied history. Now, thanks in-part to a donation of on-air archives by Motor Racing Network (MRN), they are part of the storied Museum of Television & Radio. MRN, the nation’s largest independent sports radio network and the primary source for NASCAR stock car racing and related radio programming in the United States, will donate seven legendary on-air broadcast archives to the non-profit museum today (Tuesday) in New York. The presentation will be made prior to a live broadcast of “NASCAR LIVE” which will originate from the Museum at 7:00pm/et and feature the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch and other members of the Roush Organization. The show will air on “NASCAR LIVE” affiliate radio stations.
    Broadcasts included in the donation are:
    * 1979 Daytona 500 – Richard Petty avoids last lap incident to win, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison incident, first race to be flag-to-flag live TV
    * 1976 Daytona 500 – Richard Petty and David Pearson crash on last lap
    * 1987 The Winston – The Pass In The Grass by Dale Earnhardt, Sr., considered one of the most exciting moments in the history of NASCAR’s All-Star Race.
    * 1992 Hooters 500 – Richard Petty’s last race . . . Alan Kulwicki wins Winston Cup in tightest points battle in modern era . . . first career Winston Cup start for Jeff Gordon.
    * 1984 Pepsi 400 – Richard Petty 200th victory, President Ronald Reagan in attendance.
    * 1988 Daytona 500 – Bobby and Davey Allison finish 1st and 2nd respectively, notable father/son finish
    * 1998 Daytona 500 – Dale Earnhardt, Sr., finally wins the Daytona 500 after two decades of frustration.
    The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public.(DIS PR)(11-30-2004)
  • Dover sues makers of Stacker 2/YJ Stinger . . . and Rowdy has the story. Big time race sponsorships cost money-in the case of the Busch Series Stacker 2 Hundred at Dover International Speedway, $350,000. But according to a complaint filed with the Superior Court of Newcastle County Delaware, the speedway hasn’t been paid. The complaint, obtained by Rowdy, also alleges that NVE Pharmaceuticals, which owns Stacker 2 and YJ Stinger, did not spend another $325,000 to market the event, as agreed to in the contract. Hear about it today on Rowdy. Rowdy is daily racing news, interviews, and commentary you get on your cell phone-like a racing radio show you can hear whenever you want. Call 1-800-95-ROWDY (1-800-957-6939) to sign up for a free, no obligation trial.(Rowdy PR)(11-30-2004)
  • Busch speaks to Benny: Kurt Busch says his Nextel Cup championship is beginning to sink in and he told Raybestos Fast Talk host Benny Parsons when the play money is aside and he receives the big check Friday at the awards banquet it will fully set in. Busch describes his hotel room, the presidential suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, as “Probably the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. I think one of the bedrooms is almost over in Staten Island…the other one is over in Queens and one is in Midtown, the rooms seem that large. You have to walk between all the rooms with these great hallways…it’s a magnificent place to be able to stay in a room that one of our past presidents stayed in.” Is Kurt nervous about being in New York City? “ Just a little bit here and there, but I’m so anxious to go to the next appearance or to the next show that it makes the time go by quick and we’ve got things planned with the girlfriend and with the family…it’s a great time”. On Tuesday Busch will take part in a training exercise with the New York City Fire Department. “I’m gonna be hauling hoses up and down steps; dragging some dummies around and I think they’re going to bring in a smoke machine so we’re not going to actually set things on fire.”(PRN’s Raybestos Fast Talk)(11-30-2004)
  • Chase Finale Ratings Up 38%: NBC’s broadcast of the Nov. 21 Ford 400 Nextel Cup finale earned a final 6.2 rating from Nielsen Media Research, The New York Times reports. The figure is up 37.8 percent from last year’s event. The story says the race was seen by 9.9 million viewers and says the 10 races in the inaugural Chase For The Nextel Cup showed a 12 percent ratings increase, to a 4.6, with an average of 7.3 million viewers per race.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-30-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 29, 2004

  • AARWBA’s All-American Racing Team Voting Kicks Off: Almost 300 members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association are voting to select the 2004 Auto Racing All-America team. Former Jerry Titus Award winners John Force (1996, 1999, 2000, 2002), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1998, 2001), and Tommy Kendall (1997) are among those on the ballot, as well as 21-time All-American Steve Kinser. The Titus Award honors the team’s top driver – the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category. AARWBA members will vote from among six drivers named in each category. Two from each category will be named to the first team, to be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet in Pomona, CA on January 15th. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award will also be announced at the banquet, which also kicks off the celebrations of the Association’s 50th anniversary. AARWBA members have annually chosen an All-America Auto Racing Team since 1970. See the full list of drivers at Speed Channel.(AARWBA PR/Speed Channel)(11-30-2004)
  • Artist suing over Nextel Cup: A freelance designer and artist is gearing up for a battle against auto racing behemoth NASCAR, the Franklin Mint and the Mint’s former president. Matthew T. Scharle of Barrington, N.J., filed a lawsuit last week against all three, seeking credit for the new Nextel Cup Series Championship trophy, which he claims to have designed. “It’s not my intention to hurt NASCAR,” said Matthew T. Scharle, who lives in this small Camden County borough. “I love the sport. I just want recognition for the design work I did.” Scharle’s lawyer Neal A. Jacobs said Scharle’s suit also seeks compensation for the alleged incorrect identification of the trophy’s designer and related copyright issues. The Franklin Mint, the Aston, Pa.-based collectible marketer, is involved in the matter because, two years ago, NASCAR hired it to design the new trophy. Jeffrey S. Edwards, a lawyer representing Franklin Mint, said the Mint believes it is inappropriate to comment on pending litigation. On Nov. 9, the NASCAR sued Scharle, Franklin Mint and former Franklin Mint President Bruce J. Newman, seeking an injunction to block Scharle from taking any action to interfere with the awarding of the trophy trackside after NASCAR’s final race Nov. 21 or at NASCAR’s Dec. 3 banquet. “NASCAR dealt with the Franklin Mint during the design process and is very proud of the trophy and what it symbolizes,” the association said in a statement. “NASCAR maintains that it owns all rights, title and interest in the design of the NASCAR Nextel Cup trophy and in the trophy itself, including the right of attribution and all other worldwide copyrights as spelled out in NASCAR’s agreements with the Franklin Mint.” In its lawsuit, NASCAR stated any dispute between Scharle, who was paid for his work by Franklin Mint, and Franklin Mint should be handled by those two parties through binding arbitration.(MSNBC.com)(11-29-2004)
  • Robby to race in the Dakar Rally: Robby Gordon will join the Volkswagen team for the forthcoming Dakar Rally. The 35-year-old American will join three previous Dakar Rally winners – Juha Kankkunen, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Bruno Saby – in a four-car Volkswagen squad on the Dakar, renowned as one of the world’s toughest rallies. Though better known for his racing exploits, which include sports car class wins in the Daytona 24 Hours and numerous single-seater and stock car victories, Gordon is no stranger to off-road competition and is a two-time winner of the most famous US rally, the Baja 1000. Gordon and his team-mates will be driving the fearsome four-wheel-drive Race-Touareg, which is powered by a 260 PS, 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine. Successfully introduced on the 2004 Dakar Rally, the Race-Touareg has undergone a year-long test and development programme which culminated in a 14-day, 5000km endurance marathon in Morocco completed earlier this month. The Dakar gets underway from Barcelona on December 31st and, after three short Spanish stages, crosses to Morocco for the start of the rally proper on January 3rd. There are 13 special stages in North Africa, from Rabat through Mauritania and Mali, ahead of the final stage in the Senegalese capital on January 16th. Gordon knows what is required of him: ‘Excellent endurance qualities are a necessity,’ said Robby. ‘The car must be 100 per cent reliable and the driver and co-driver have to fend for themselves…’ Endurance is something he has demonstrated: his 1989 win in the Baja 1000 was the result of a solo 16-hour drive. Gordon will be making his Dakar debut, but Volkswagen’s other team drivers have enormous collective experience of the event. Finnish driver Kankkunen is a four-time World Rally Champion and was Dakar Rally winner in 1998. He is co-driven by his countryman Juha Repo.(Robby Gordon site) and see more about the Rally at the official site: www.dakar.com.(11-29-2004)

News and Rumors from November 28, 2004

  • Schrader back in ARCA: Ken Schrader, driver of the Nextel Cup #49 BAM Racing Dodge, will also run five ARCA RE/MAX Series events in 2005. If Schrader is able to make all five events, the season will mark his most ARCA Series starts in any given year since the Fenton, Missouri native first raced with the series at Daytona in 1981. Schrader, with sponsorship from Federated Auto Parts, has plans to enter RE/MAX Series events at Salem Speedway, Toledo Speedway, Gateway Int’l Raceway, Michigan Int’l Speedway and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt track. Schrader, in 34 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, has 11 wins, 11 Pork pole awards, 22 top-5 finishes and 25 top-10s. In addition, Schrader has led 1,417 laps in 20 races. Other events on Schrader’s 2005 calendar under the Federated Auto Parts banner include at least nine NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races and at least 20 dirt late model events spread out across the country with the possibility of adding more in each category. In 2004, Schrader raced in over 40 short-track races on dirt in a combination of late models and UMP modifieds. Veteran crew chief Donnie Richeson is slated to crew chief Schrader’s RE/MAX Series cars as well as his Craftsman Truck Series machines.(ARCA Racing site)(11-28-2004)
  • TV Talks to Heat Up in NYC: When NASCAR holds its award banquet in New York City this week, there will be plenty of behind the scenes deal making. One of the biggest discussions will be over the future of NASCAR’s television contract. In 1999 NASCAR inked a $2.4 billion deal with FOX and NBC/Turner, which gobbled up TV rights through the 2006 season. FOX has a two-year option through the 2008 season. So up for grabs is the second half of the Cup season beginning in 2007, a position NBC/Turner has enjoyed since the 2001 season. NASCAR brass will sit down with its current television partners this week to review the 2004 season, look ahead to next year and begin talks about a contract in 2007. NASCAR would prefer to retain its current dance partners. “Clearly, from our perspective, we are very happy with our current partners,” Dick Glover, NASCAR’s vice president of broadcasting and new media said. “We would love to extend and be in business with them for a long period of time.” But as the rights for 2007 and beyond go on the auction block, there are two interesting factors to consider: The NFL’s newly inked $11 billion television contract and the ABC Sports/ESPN group waiting in the tall weeds to make a bid. ABC Sports may be saving up to increase the ante on NBC/Turner. ABC pulled out of extending its BCS contract in college football, which would have cost $80 million a year in broadcast rights fees. Back in 1999, ESPN was the big loser in the NASCAR TV wars, after spending nearly two decades broadcasting stock car races and building the sport on a national scale. The starting line for 2007 TV rights is New York this week as the NASCAR community gathers to honor Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch. “During banquet week we sit down with them (broadcast partners) and review the year and look forward to the year coming,” Glover said. “We’ll start talking to them about opportunities going forward. Our goal is to work with them to find some kind of agreement to go forward for the longer term. When we’re ready to announce it, we hope they will have a big smile on their face and we’ll have a big smile on our face.”
    The NFL is undisputed king of network sports. NASCAR has zoomed up the chart as the #2 most-watched sport in the land. The NFL’s new contract has completely changed the broadcast rights playing field, which means NASCAR can expect a bigger check for its next TV contract. The bidding is expected to be fierce and finalized in the next 12 months. ABC/ESPN has stayed in the racing game by airing NHRA and IRL events since 2001. Here’s another hint about ESPN’s interest level in NASCAR. On Dec. 11, ESPN will premier the movie “3,” a docudrama about racing legend Dale Earnhardt.(in part from the Daytona Beach News Journal)(11-28-2004)
  • An Evening with Bobby Labonte: Former Cup champion Bobby Labonte will be honorary chairman and the featured guest for an American Lung Association benefit on Dec. 8. “An Evening with Bobby Labonte” is scheduled at the Speedway Club ballroom at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Sponsorship opportunities remain available and tickets and keepsake prints are limited. More info on my Racing Charities page.(11-28-2004)
  • Gaughan at Chrysler Museum: 2005 Dodge truck test drives and an appearance by NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Brendan Gaughan highlight the What to Give Your Truck for the Holidays expo Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum at One Chrysler Drive in Auburn Hills, MI. The event runs 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. and admission is free. More info and link at my Driver Appearances page.(11-28-2004)
  • Turkey Night Brings out some NASCAR drivers: USAC National Midget Champion Bobby East won the 64th “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, driving Steve Lewis’ Beast. East took the lead from Tony Hunt on the 26th lap of the 100-lap feature and then outlasted Aaron Fike for the victory. The win made East the top USAC winner of 2004. Rounding out the top five were Fike, Tracy Hines, Jason Leffler and Jerome Rodela. Last year’s USAC Triple Crown winner J.J. Yeley finished eighth while NASCAR star Tony Stewart failed to make the feature, having suffered mechanical problems in the qualifying heat.(Speed Channel)(11-28-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 27, 2004

  • Busch final driver to qualify for the Bud Shootout: During last weekend’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch became the final driver to qualify for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night, Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway. Busch, driver of the #97 Sharpie Ford for Roush Racing, lapped Homestead-Miami Speedway at 179.319 mph to earn the Ford 400 pole and become the 20th driver eligible for the Budweiser Shootout, a non-points race that features previous season’s pole winners and past Budweiser Shootout champions. The field of 20 eligible drivers is two shy of the record 22 that competed in the 2002 edition of the Budweiser Shootout. Other drivers that have won pole positions this season and are qualified for next year’s Budweiser Shootout are #01-Joe Nemechek, #16-Greg Biffle, #9-Kasey Kahne, #25-Brian Vickers, #41-Casey Mears, #24-Jeff Gordon, #12-Ryan Newman, #18-Bobby Labonte, #21-Ricky Rudd, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #19-Jeremy Mayfield. Past Budweiser Shootout champions eligible are #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #20-Tony Stewart, #88-Dale Jarrett, #6-Mark Martin, #2-Rusty Wallace, #49-Ken Schrader, #91-Bill Elliott and #44-Terry Labonte [and Geoffrey Bodine who ran in the race in 2004?]. Tickets for Speedweeks 2005 and the 47th annual Daytona 500 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR)(11-27-2004)
  • MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award: #12-Ryan Newman won the final MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season by leading Sunday’s Ford 400 at half-way mark. Newman went on to finish the race in the 30th position after a late-race accident. The MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award race-win bonus went unclaimed as a result of Newman not winning the race. The $10,000 bonus will be added to the $75,000 awarded to the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award Champion. The MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award is worth $10,000 to any eligible NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver who leads a race at the half-way mark and displays the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award decal on their race car. An additional $5,000 is earned if that driver also wins the race. If the race-win bonus goes unearned, the $5,000 rolls into the next week’s award. Eligible drivers earn two points for winning the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award and another point if they also go on to win the race. The driver who earns the most points during the season will win the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award Championship. $75,000 [$85,000] paid to the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Champion Tony Stewart.(MBNA Motorsports PR), see the race results and standings for the bonus on my Ford 400 Race Rundown/Info page.(11-27-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 26, 2004

  • Odds for 2005: Nextel Cup odds have already been established for the 2005 season. Jimmie Johnson is a 9-2 favorite of one Internet site, with Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon second at 6-1. Kasey Kahne was the #5 favorite with the same odds as 2004 champion Kurt Busch — 8-1 — and lower odds than former series champions Stewart (10-1), Matt Kenseth (10-1), Bobby Labonte (30-1), Dale Jarrett (40-1) and Rusty Wallace (50-1).(Indianapolis Star)(11-26-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 25, 2004

  • Tony Stewart Named Fourth Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year: It’s not often that an event can benefit so many people, but that’s exactly what a benefit concert hosted by the Tony Stewart Foundation did this summer, raising over $270,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Easter Seals West Kentucky, the Dream Factory-Paducah Chapter and the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center. For his efforts, Stewart has been named the 2004 Fourth Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year.
    “It’s an honor to be selected as the fourth-quarter winner,” said Stewart. “This is a special award, because it’s not about what you do on the race track, it’s about what you do with your heart. I know that the previous winners of this award were some very deserving people, and to join them means a tremendous amount to me.”
    Stewart created his Foundation in 2003 to assist groups caring for chronically ill children and drivers injured in motorsports, as well as to support other charitable organizations in the protection of animals. Other charities the Foundation supports include the Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Indiana Special Olympics, Greyrescue (Greyhound Rescue Organization) and Charlotte (N.C.) Metropolitan Zoo.
    USG (United States Gypsum), a promotional partner of NASCAR, is in its second year as sponsor of the NASCAR USG Person of the Year program. The award is designed to honor drivers not only for their accomplishments on the track, but for their community service contributions and charitable efforts.
    To determine the NASCAR USG Person of the Year Award winner, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season is divided into four quarters in which drivers are nominated for their off-track efforts. A select group of panelists chooses one of the four quarterly finalists as the NASCAR USG Person of the Year. This award will be presented the week of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York City, along with a prize of $100,000. The prize will be divided evenly between the driver and the charity of his/her choice.
    Other notable nominees were Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. Gordon was the first quarter nominee, Elliott Sadler the second quarter nominee and Dale Jarrett was the third quarter nominee.
    In addition to the NASCAR USG Person of the Year, USG also sponsors the Driver of the Race Award, which goes to the eligible winning driver of each of the 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship events. Each USG Driver of the Race Award winner receives $2,500 with an additional $2,500 going to the charity of his/her choice.(NASCAR PR)(11-25-2004)
  • Update on LMS Dirt Driver: Jimmy Weller III has made remarkable progress since his accident at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s motor speedway on October 13th during a USAC race. Jimmy has overcome two surgeries and has been moved to physical therapy unit at The Carolina’s Medical Center, where he has been a patient for over two weeks now. Doctors are happy with his progress and they anticipate that he will be released from the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation on Wednesday December 1st at that time Jimmy will be moved to his home near Youngstown, Ohio. After returning home Jimmy will continue to receive physical therapy at a facility near his home until he is completely rehabilitated. Jimmy has been able to read the hundreds of cards and go thru the generous gifts that his friends and race fans from all over the country have sent him. Cards can continue to be sent to Jimmy at the Charlotte facility unit the end of this week. Starting next week all cards can be sent to Jimmy Weller III 299 Warner Roa! d, Hubbard, Ohio 44425. Jimmy and the entire Weller Family would like to “Thank” everyone for all their prayers, cards and support during this difficult time over the past month. We will continue to update you on Jimmy’s progress once we return home. (Weller Racing PR)(11-25-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 24, 2004

  • Penske Turns down Jack Daniel’s: per Speedway Scene’s S-Notes, Penske Racing [#2,#12,#77,#06] had plans for a 4th full-time Cup team for Travis Kvapil as the driver and Jack Daniel’s as the sponsor. However someone within the ‘Penske Family’ found an issue with alcohol sponsorships [um…..Miller Lite ain’t a soft drink], so the full-time 4th team was scrapped. That is leading to the rumors that Kvapil could replace Brendan Gaughan in the #77 Kodak Dodge, since it looks like Kvapil doesn’t have a full-time gig in 2005 in any series. And while it is widely speculated that Jack Daniel’s will go to Richard Childress Racing for the #30 [to #07?] car and driver Dave Blaney [supposedly already signed], rumor has it that NASCAR may have Jack Daniel’s as a NASCAR Sponsor [like Gatorade…etc].(Speedway Scene Print Edition – Nov.19th)(11-24-2004)
  • Gaughan disputes reports: Brendan Gaughan told Sirius Speedway (MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio) Tuesday that, contrary to published reports, he has not been told whether he will return to the #77 Kodak Dodge next season. “They haven’t told me anything,” said Gaughan. “But then again, I haven’t asked. I’m working on some things for myself next year, including a minimum 18-race Truck Series program at Orleans Racing. I have also had quite a few team owners approach me about possibilities for next year; people who obviously don’t think the driver was the problem (with the #77) this season. I’m not too worried about it. If they decide to ask me back, we’ll deal with it then.” Gaughan said he enjoyed his relationship with co-owner Doug Bawel and sponsor Kodak this season, calling them, “super people to work with.” However, he added that he was disappointed with the team’s poor performance, saying, “I’m in racing because I love it. It’s not about the money for me. I’m a competitor, and I want to run up front and contend for wins. If I’m not doing that, I’m not happy.” The Las Vegas native said he would not necessarily return to the #77 next season, even if asked. “I would have to give it some thought,” he said. “I think the world of Doug (Bawel) and Kodak, and Roger Penske is a very difficult man to say no to. But another year like we just went through? I don’t know. I guess I’ll just wait and see if an offer is made, then see what’s in my heart at that time.”(MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio)(11-24-2004)
  • Stewart’s Pit Crew Edges Earnhardt Jr.’s Crew For Season Title, $200,000 Champion’s Bonus: The pit crew for Tony Stewart captured the season title in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. The #20 Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing crew will collect a $200,000 champion’s bonus from McDonald’s/POWERade, Dec. 3 in New York City. By winning the weekly competition three times and earning $20,000 for each victory, the total prize money earned in 2004 by Stewart’s crew was $260,000. In the 36-race competition, Stewart’s crew defeated the pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. by a mere four points – 1262 to 1258. Earnhardt’s crew won the inaugural McDonald’s/POWERade championship in 2003. Elliott Sadler’s crew, a seven-time weekly winner, finished third with 1248 points. The crew for Nextel Cup champion, Kurt Busch, was fourth (1240) and Kevin Harvick’s crew rounded out the top five (1222). “I think it’s awesome that my guys won the McDonald’s/POWERade pit crew championship,” said Stewart. “They’ve worked hard all year, in the gym and at the race track. And when track position was tough to come by, they gave it to me with fast pit stops. My guys definitely earned this championship.”
    Stewart’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Chuck White (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff “Gooch” Patterson (gas man) and Brian Larson (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa.(DMF Commincations PR)(11-24-2004), for the season standings see my Pit Crew News/Awards page.
  • Marlins pit crew takes the honors at Homestead: Sterling Marlin’s pit crew took top honors in the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the third McDonald’s/POWERade win of the season for the #40 crew. Marlin’s Coors Light Dodge spent the least amount of time on pit road – 238.383 seconds. Bobby Labonte’s Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was second at 241.073 and coming in third was Michael Waltrip’s #15 NAPA Chevy at 258.508. Marlin’s over-the-wall crew consists of Steven Wolfe (front-tire changer), Trent Davis (front-tire carrier), Barry Boeckenstedt (rear-tire changer), Tim Shore (rear-tire carrier), Mark Jacobs (jackman), Randy Hildreth (gasman) and Mike Motil (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Tony Glover and the pit crew coach is Phil Horton.(DMF Commincations PR)(11-24-2004), for the top 10, race by race winner and season standings see my Pit Crew News/Awards page, past race results on the very large 2004 Pit Crew Past News page.
  • Docs not happy with NASCAR’s hard liquior decision: Backed by poll results it claims show a majority of Americans believe sports leagues should reduce the amount of alcohol marketing, the American Medical Association [AMA] on Tuesday called on NASCAR to reverse its recent decision to recind its long-standing ban on sponsorships from hard liquor companies. “We believe (NASCAR) should use its new-found marketing and cultural influence to be a positive role model, not to endanger the lives and health of youth through the glamorization of liquor,” said Dr. J. Edward Hill, president-elect of the AMA. “Alcohol is involved in a third of all automobile accidents that kill teenagers, so advertising liquor on the actual race cars that youth idolize sends the wrong message.” In its statement calling for NASCAR to reverse its stance on hard liquor sponsorships, the AMA cited a recently completed study by The Mellman Group, which polled 1,000 adults 18 years old and older. Sixty-nine percent of those participating agreed sports teams and leagues should reduce the amount of alcohol marketing underage fans are exposed to. In addition, 44 percent said NASCAR should reverse its decision on hard liquor, while 30 percent agreed with NASCAR’s decision and 25 percent had no opinion. “NASCAR – already a billion-dollar industry – is clearly willing to trade the health and safety of its young viewers for more profits.,” Hill said. NASCAR officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.(ThatsRacin.com) and see the AMS’s statement at ThatsRacin.com
    Guess the Doctors missed this part of the NASCAR PR [from Nov 10th]: “The distilled spirits companies participating in NASCAR must agree to comply with the Distilled Spirits Council’s “Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing” and abide by the Code Review Board’s decisions. Each company’s marketing activities will be grounded in a responsible behavior message. A dedicated portion of advertising by spirits companies in NASCAR will be solely focused on encouraging responsible drinking decisions, with all remaining advertising including a responsible behavior tag.”(11-24-2004)
  • Gillette Young Guns – Ford 400 Notes: It was Kurt Busch’s championship to lose, and during the Ford 400 on Sunday, it looked as though there was a chance that might happen. In the end though, like he and his #97 team had done so many times during the course of the season, Busch overcame numerous challenges and obstacles at Homestead en-route to a fifth-place finish to clinch the 2004 championship by a mere eight points over fellow Young Gun Jimmie Johnson.
    * As the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun, a $1,000 donation will be made to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) on behalf of Jimmie Johnson. This is the 13th time this year that a donation in Johnson’s name has been made to the NPCC. To date, $36,000 has been donated to the NPCC over the course of the season in the name of the Gillette Young Guns.
    * As the race winner and being the highest finishing eligible driver in the contingency program, Greg Biffle picked up the $4,800 Gillette Mach3 Turbo Award.
    * Five members of the Gillette Young Guns made the top-10 and were awarded the chance to battle for the Chase for the 2004 NEXTEL Cup. They were Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-24-2004)
  • Las Vegas to honor NASCAR champion Kurt Busch on Dec. 5: Local race fans will get an opportunity to welcome hometown hero and newly crowned NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch back to Las Vegas during a special celebration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5 at the Fremont Street Experience. “It’s an honor to be recognized by the people of Las Vegas for what we have accomplished,” Busch said. “I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to celebrate and share this championship with everyone in my hometown.” Officials from local, state and federal offices will be on hand to make special presentations to Busch, a graduate of Durango High School. The ceremony, which will be held on the First Street Stage near the Golden Nugget, will be free of charge and open to the public. Busch will be on hand to address the crowd – only 14 days following his clinching of one of motorsports’ most coveted titles. “It’s hard to believe that just five years ago we were watching Kurt race Modifieds and Legends at the Bullring,” said Chris Powell, Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager. “His rise to the top of NASCAR’s premier series has been phenomenal. It’s a special time for our entire community to have a local product like Kurt win NASCAR’s biggest championship. This puts him in an elite group with Greg Maddux and Andre Agassi as one of Las Vegas’ biggest sports heroes. “We’re happy that we can do our part to recognize his outstanding accomplishments, and we invite everyone in the Las Vegas area to join us on Fremont Street Dec. 5 to show Kurt how much we appreciate what he has done.” For more information on this event, please contact Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s public relations department at (702) 632-8266.(LVMS PR)(11-24-2004)
  • Homestead TV Overnight Ratings 47% Up – Charlotte ratings come in 2nd: NBC’s coverage of Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, delivered a 5.6 overnight rating/11 share the best overnight rating in the event’s six year history, according to Nielsen Media Research. Kurt Busch held-off Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to win NASCAR’s hotly contested inaugural “Chase for the Nextel Cup.”
    The 5.6/11 (1-5:30pm/et) for the Ford 400 was a 47% gain over the 3.8/8 (1-5:15pm/et) last year when Matt Kenseth clinched the championship at the Ford 400. The 5.6 overnight rating was also a 24% improvement over the previous best overnight rating for the event, a 4.5/9 when Tony’s Stewart clinched the 2002 championship. Since broadcasting the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway, NBC has increased the overnight rating 87% from a 3.0/7 in 1999.
    The 5.6 overnight rating for the Ford 400 also marks the best performance ever against Sunday afternoon football competition. The previous high was a 4.7 overnight rating/9 for the 2003 EA Sports 500 from Talladega.
    “We are thrilled with the continued success of NASCAR on NBC and TNT,” said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports. “When the top 4 drivers were separated by just nine points with 72 laps to go it proved positively the wisdom of the “Chase.” In that moment the sport’s burgeoning popularity coupled with the innovative season ending “Chase” and ISC’s investment to create a track worthy of hosting a true championship event, all combined to create exceptional drama.”
    The rating peaked at a 7.1/13 from 5-5:30pm/et as Greg Biffle took the checkered flag to win the race and his teammate Kurt Busch clinched the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.
    NBC’s “Discover Card Countdown to Green” pre-race show (noon-1pm/et) earned a 2.8/7 up 22% from a 2.3/5 in 2003. The 2.8/7 also outperformed CBS’s “NFL Today” by four% as the hour-long NFL pre-game show earned a 2.7/7 (noon- 1pm/et). National ratings will be not be available until next Monday as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday.(NBC PR)(11-22-2004)
    Panthers outdraw Chase finale: Sunday’s Carolina Panthers broadcast edged NASCAR’s Ford 400 in the local ratings. The Panthers got a 15.3 rating, meaning 15.3 percent of the households in the Charlotte area were tuned to the game on Fox (WCCB, Ch. 18). The race got a 12.4 rating on NBC (WCNC, Ch. 36), more than twice the overall national rating, which was a 5.5. The national rating was up 45 percent over the same race in 2003 and up 22 percent from the 2002 numbers, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.(Charlotte Observer)(11-24-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 23, 2004

  • Fennig wins Wiper Award: Internet voters have selected Jimmy Fennig as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race after his driver, Kurt Busch, overcame several setbacks to finish fifth in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and collect the Nextel Cup championship. Wypall [www.wypall.com] says nearly 65 percent of voters selected Fennig after Busch overcame a broken wheel and other problems to collect the title in Roush Racing’s #97 Ford. Tony Eury Sr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s #8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr., won $10,000 for the charities of his choice after collecting the most weekly victories in the voting this year with 10 wins.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-23-2004)
  • Pit Bull goes poof: ‘Pit Bull,’ the weekly NASCAR discussion show on Speed featuring a panel of print reporters, will not return for 2005. In an e-mail to the show’s participants sent Tuesday, Speed Channel president Rick Miner said “we live by ratings and ‘Pit Bull’ did not make the cut for 2005.”(ThatsRacin.com)(11-23-2004)
  • Crown Royal to be Primary Sponsor in Selected races on the #97: Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, today announced its Crown Royal brand will become a primary sponsor of 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch and the #97 Roush Racing Sharpie/Irwin car for select races throughout the 2005 season. Crown Royal becomes the first spirits brand to enter the sport since NASCAR recently announced that spirits companies would be allowed to participate as team sponsors.
    The Crown Royal sponsorship will be built around Diageo’s existing relationship with Roush Racing, which started in 2003 with a primary sponsorship of Matt Kenseth and the #17 Roush Racing car for Diageo’s flavored malt beverage Smirnoff ICE. That sponsorship continued for part of 2004 before switching to the #97 car late in the season. Diageo will utilize the Crown Royal brand’s new association with NASCAR to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR’s adult fans.
    “We’re excited that Crown Royal will be entering NASCAR so prominently with a sponsorship of the sport’s newest champion, Kurt Busch and Roush Racing,” said Mark Waller, Executive Vice President, Consumer Strategy and Marketing, Diageo. “Our association with this world class racing team gives Diageo the opportunity to connect with millions of adult NASCAR fans, and remind them about the importance of responsible drinking. A multi-million dollar marketing budget supporting this sponsorship will include dedicated social responsibility messaging.”
    Busch, 26, captured his first NASCAR championship on Sunday, November 21 by rallying to finish fifth in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR’s newest champion won three races during the 2004 season to increase his career total to 11 NASCAR victories. The championship season marks the second in a row for Roush Racing following last season’s championship with Matt Kenseth and the #17 car.
    “I’m thrilled about the opportunity to continue the partnership with Crown Royal as they further commit to our sport,” Busch said. “I know that as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion I am in a great position to help Crown Royal reach our fans with the importance of responsible drinking.”
    Crown Royal’s integrated motorsports marketing plan will include primary sponsorship of the #97 car at select races during the 2005 season including the Brickyard 400. When Crown Royal is not a primary sponsor, the brand will support Kurt as an associate sponsor of the #97 car during the 2005 season. Crown Royal will also continue to engage race fans across the country to “Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly.” with its 2005 title sponsorship of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions.
    For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com. For more information on Crow Royal, visit www.crownroyal.com/racing.(Alan Taylor Communications PR), see an image of the cae on my #97 Team Paint Schemes page.(11-23-2004)
  • No word on BANG UPDATE: The weekend passed without the announcement on the future of Bang Racing that owner Alex Meshkin had promised two weeks earlier. Bang fielded trucks for Travis Kvapil and had planned to move to the Busch Series next year. Kvapil has driven in three Nextel Cup races for Penske Racing, though, and that team is working on a deal for him.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-22-2004)
    UPDATE: hearing that crew chief Eric Phillips left the team after Homestead, supposedly the team only has a twenty race Busch Series deal in place with Line-X. Kvapil has said he is signed thru 2005, imagine that hinges on a full-time sponsor. Most rumors point to Kavapil in Penske’s Kodak Dodge in 2005.(11-23-2004)
  • Kurt’s Cap: got many email’s complaining about 2004 Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch leaving his Sharpie Cap on during the singing of the National Anthem….anyhow, Busch was on Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain [can catch re-air at 9am on Tuesday, Nov 23rd], Dave asked Kurt about it, and Kurt seemed surprised and said he was late getting to his car, and didn’t hear or realize the National Anthem was being played at the time…..so let’s chalk it up to an honest mistake.(11-23-2004)
  • Last Time Ford won drivers championships in two consecutive seasons? In 1968 and 1969 when David Pearson won in a Holman-Moody Ford crew chiefed by Jake Elder.(11-23-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 22, 2004

  • Sunoco Truck to benefit Victory Junction Gang: For the past 11 years, Sunoco has produced a mini-hauler for sale at its participating Sunoco and APlus retail locations. This year, to celebrate its first year as official fuel supplier of NASCAR, the truck will have a NASCAR theme. The proceeds from sales of the mini-hauler will go to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., to the tune of $250,000. Beginning Nov. 23, you can purchase the Sunoco mini-hauler ($19.99) with featured drivers Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Robby Gordon. Each hauler makes authentic truck sounds when turned on, has working head and tail lights and side panels with Sunoco-themed racing graphics. Inside the truck, a racing car sits on a pedestal and rotates when the truck is rolled, while a spotlight focuses its beam on the race car. Each truck also comes with a mini war wagon, complete with Goodyear tires, Sunoco dump cans and Sunoco checkered flags. Equity Marketing has produced some 150,000 of the mini-haulers for sale, and the trucks will be in participating locations beginning Nov. 23. Should fans wish to order any of the previous 10 mini-haulers, point-of-purchase displays will be located in participating retailers for this purpose.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2004)
  • Hmiel loses hard card, will NOT spot for Dale Jr. Sunday MORE II: NASCAR officials confiscated Dale Earnhardt Inc. Steve Hmiel’s hard card on Saturday and escorted him from the garage at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hmiel was reprimanded in the trailer for inappropriate language over the radio during the Craftsman Truck race on Friday. In addition to Hmiel’s position of technical director for DEI, he is also Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s spotter. Earnhardt is currently fourth in the Chase, 72 points behind Kurt Busch. Tony Eury Jr., car chief for the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet, says Hmiel’s absence is indefinite, and he will not return on Sunday. When asked who will spot for Junior, Eury Jr., replied, “Some guy named Danny.” The Sporting News has learned that Danny Culler, who used to spot for the late Dale Earnhardt, will spot for Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday’s Ford 400.(FoxSports)(11-20-2004)
    UPDATE: Steve Hmiel, technical director for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and the usual weekend spotter for Dale Earnhardt Jr., was told to leave Homestead-Miami Speedway for the remainder of the weekend Saturday morning by NASCAR President Mike Helton. The move is a suspension in fact, if not in name. Hmiel was not allowed to spot for Earnhardt Jr. during two Saturday Nextel Cup practice sessions, or for his son, Shane, in Saturday’s Busch Series race. Hmiel is also prohibited from spotting for Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday’s Ford 400. Earnhardt Jr. is one of five drivers eligible to win the Chase for the Nextel Cup in the race. Officials with Dale Earnhardt Inc. could not be immediately reached for comment late Saturday. Hmiel was asked to leave for making several “inappropriate remarks” – directed at NASCAR officials – over a team radio during Friday’s Truck series race, in which he was spotting for his son. “The comments showed a total lack of respect for NASCAR officials. They were totally inappropriate,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications. At the time of the incident the race was under caution and NASCAR had awarded Shane Hmiel the “free pass” for the first driver not on the lead lap. However, after a review of the circumstances, which included Hmiel crossing the pit road commitment line, NASCAR took back the free pass. Steve Hmiel then lit into NASCAR officials repeatedly over the team radio, including at one point declaring, “NASCAR (expletive) it up.” Hmiel reported to the spotter’s stand Saturday morning for the first Cup practice session, but was called into a meeting with Helton, during which he was told to leave the track, Hunter said.(ThatsRacin.com)
    AND NASCAR said Hmiel, director of motorsports at Dale Earnhardt Inc., made disparaging remarks about series officials over the radio during Friday’s Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hmiel was spotting for his son, Shane, when he became angry about a ruling against him. He was called in for a meeting with NASCAR president Mike Helton Saturday morning and was sent home. “It showed complete disrespect for NASCAR and its officials, so after a meeting with Mike Helton, he was sent home for the weekend,” said NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo.(AP/ESPN.com)(11-21-2004)
    UPDATE: Danny Culler, who used to spot for Dale Earnhardt Jr’s father, replaced Hmiel on the spotter’s stand Sunday. Halfway through the race, Earnhardt praised Culler on the team radio: “Hey Danny, I know you been doing this a while, but I really like the way you spot. You’ve done a good job.”(Dallas Morning News)(11-22-2004)
  • Crew Chief Changes at Hendrick? UPDATE 3: hearing Hendrick Motorsports will make some changes with the #5 Kelloggs team [2005 driver Kyle Busch] and #25-Brian Vickers, supposedly starting with the crew chiefs.(11-18-2004)
    UPDATE: Nextel Cup rookie Brian Vickers is expected to get a new crew chief next season and be reunited with Lance McGrew, the crew chief with whom Vickers won the 2003 Busch Series championship, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Vickers’ crew chief for the #25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet this season, Peter Sospenzo, will remain with the Hendrick Motorsports organization in another capacity, sources said. Officials with Hendrick said Sunday no announcements on personnel changes will come until after the season.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-21-2004)
    UPDATE 2: After a lackluster rookie year in the #25 car, Brian Vickers will be reunited with his Busch Series crew chief, Lance McGrew. They won the Busch title in 2003, and some were surprised when McGrew didn’t join Vickers during his rookie year in Cup. Vickers’ current chief, Peter Sospenzo, will join Terry Labonte’s limited run in 2005 [in the #44], and Jim Long, who was crew chief for Labonte’s #5 Kellogg’s Chevy, will work on the NBS program with rookies Boston Reid and Blake Feese and possibly a driver or two from the Cup stable. Alan Gustafson, who previously was the team engineer for the #25, will be Kyle Busch’s crew chief on the #5.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-22-2004)
    AND Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced key personnel changes affecting each of his organization’s stock-car teams going into the 2005 NASCAR campaign. Racing veterans Jim Long, Lance McGrew and Peter Sospenzo will each assume fresh responsibilities next season, while lead engineer Alan Gustafson has been promoted to crew chief. As part of the restructuring effort, team executive Brian Whitesell will also transition into a new role. “With a new shop opening and drivers moving to different teams, it made sense for us to look at our organizational structure in a different light,” Hendrick said. “These changes will create more opportunities for our folks and help us work together more efficiently.”
    GUSTAFSON TO LEAD KELLOGG’S RACING: Gustafson, 29, has been named crew chief of Hendrick’s #5 Kellogg’s Chevrolets, which next season will feature NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Kyle Busch as driver. A native of Ormond Beach, Fla., Gustafson cut his racing teeth working as a mechanic at local short tracks in his home state while taking mechanical engineering courses at nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Gustafson moved to North Carolina in 1996 to pursue a career in motor sports, gaining experience with various teams before joining Hendrick’s in-house chassis effort in 1999. He was named lead engineer for the No. 5 Cup Series team the following year.
    LONG MOVES TO BUSCH SERIES: After leading the No. 5 NEXTEL Cup team for the past three years, Long will slide into the crew chief position with the No. 5 Lowe’s-sponsored NASCAR Busch Series operation. The team has earned a championship, eight victories and six pole positions over the past two seasons. An announcement regarding driving duties for the No. 5 Busch Series team is forthcoming.
    McGREW AND VICKERS REUNITED: A Baton Rouge, La., native, McGrew, 36, has been named crew chief of the NEXTEL Cup No. 25 GMAC Financial Services team, a move that reunites him with driver Brian Vickers. The duo already has an impressive track record, winning Hendrick Motorsports’ first-ever Busch Series championship together in 2003.
    SOSPENZO JOINS LABONTE EFFORT: A three-time winner on the NEXTEL Cup circuit, Sospenzo will work exclusively with two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte as crew chief of the new #44 Hendrick Motorsports team, which will attempt a 10-race schedule in 2005.
    WHITESELL NAMED TEAM MANAGER FOR 5, 25 & 44: Whitesell, 40, will take on the newly created position of team manager for the Nos. 5, 25 and 44 NEXTEL Cup teams. A native of Stuarts Draft, Va., he most recently held an identical post with Hendrick Motorsports’ Nos. 24 and 48 efforts.
    Shop foreman Mark Thoreson and lead engineer Darian Grubb will share Whitesell’s former duties with the “24/48” operation. The Nos. 5, 25 and 44 teams will be housed together in a new facility adjacent to the 24/48 building on the Hendrick Motorsports grounds. The new state-of-the-art shop is scheduled to open before the 2005 season.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(11-22-2004)
  • Stewart not happy with penalty: #20-Tony Stewart had plenty reason to be upset about Sunday after a questionable penalty for ”disobeying a NASCAR directive” dropped him from first to 25th on Lap 170, then a miscalculation by his pit crew left him short on fuel four miles from the finish. After climbing out of his car, Stewart had an angry exchange with members of his team, who immediately surrounded the driver to shield him from fans and photographers. As Stewart unclipped his protective harness and pulled off his gloves and other parts of his fire suit, he threw them angrily against the car. ”I’m just upset,” said Stewart, who needed several minutes to regain his composure. Stewart, who led three times Sunday, lost two of those advantages coming out of cautions, the first when NASCAR officials said he failed to maintain ”a smooth and consistent speed” before a restart on Lap 170, and the second when his car, desperate for gas, nearly stopped in front of eventual winner #16-Greg Biffle just after the green flag dropped for the final dash to the finish. ”I was lucky I didn’t get run over,” said Stewart, who finished sixth in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. “I don’t know [what happened]. I don’t do fuel mileage. I just drive. I can’t launch the space shuttle or anything else. I just drive, all right?” As for the black-flag penalty, which forced the #20 Home Depot Chevy into the pits, Stewart had even less explanation. ”I’m kind of curious myself right now as to what that penalty was all about,” said Stewart, who repeatedly has run afoul of NASCAR officials in his short six-year career. “I’m going to talk to [NASCAR president] Mike Helton. I’m going to find that out myself.”(Miami Herald)(11-22-2004)
  • Crew Changes at the #17: #17-Matt Kenseth fell from last year’s title to eighth this year, and his crew will be overhauled. At least five crew members are expected to either come off the road or change teams completely, but owner Jack Roush says he won’t do any crew swapping in the off-season. “Some of the people have had their jobs for a long time, and Robbie (Reiser, crew chief) is going to reassess the motivation and capabilities, both the physical attributes and the mental attitudes, of everybody,” Roush says. Some will be reassigned, and others will move on.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-22-2004)
  • Busch 4th Youngest Series Champ:
    1. Bill Rexford, won championship on 10-29-50: Born 3-14-27; 23 years, 229 days old
    2. Jeff Gordon, 11-12-95: Born 8-4-71; 24 years, 100 days
    3. Jeff Gordon, 11-16-97: 26 years, 104 days
    4. Kurt Busch, 11-21-04: Born 8-4-78; 26 years, 109 days
    5. Jeff Gordon, 11-8-98: 27 years, 96 days
    6. Richard Petty, 11-8-64: Born 7-2-37; 27 years, 129 days.(DBNJ)(11-22-2004)
  • Hendrick honored: Car owner Rick Hendrick was honored by NASCAR drivers and officials Sunday afternoon, one day after he returned to the track for the first time since four family members and several employees were killed in a plane crash. NASCAR president Mike Helton stopped the pre-race meeting to welcome Hendrick, who received a standing ovation from drivers, pit crew members and others. “We love you, it’s great to have you back,” Helton said.(USA Today/AP)(11-22-2004)
  • Newman not happy with dirty track: Newman’s #12 Alltel Dodge appeared to cut a tire, one of several that helped cause a track-record 12 cautions. “It was pretty embarrassing that NASCAR didn’t clean up the track when it was in that condition,” Newman said. “The track had a lot of debris on it all day. Before the race even started it looked like they couldn’t even blow the debris off of it. They made mention in the drivers’ meeting that they were going to keep everything clean. It’s very disappointing, but it’s pretty convenient and on par for NASCAR.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-22-2004)
  • Protesters at Miami: Steve Richman, director of a new group called the National Association for Minority Race Fans, joined 16 other protesters near the entrance of Homestead-Miami Speedway for about two hours before Sunday’s race. The goal of the protest was the group’s mission statement of promoting a safe environment at the racetrack for minority fans and to promote racial diversity among NASCAR competitors and employees. Richman said he was thrilled at the opportunity to “deliver their message in a place as diverse as South Florida.” Among the demonstrations was an offer to exchange an American flag to any fan who would turn in a Confederate flag to the group. The protesters, who claimed NASCAR events are unsafe for women and minorities, met some resistance from the predominantly white fans filing in to the racetrack who shouted racial obscenities, according to Richman. Despite the battle of words, the demonstration proceeded without violence. ”We’re used to being called idiots and a lot of worse things when we’re out there,” Richman said. “Overall, I think it went well.” The Atlanta-based group, which formed during the summer, has undertaken ”peaceful demonstrations” at other NASCAR events in Talladega and Atlanta the past couple of months. Richman said the group will continue to plan events during next year’s season.(Miami Herald)(11-22-2004)

News and Rumors from November 21, 2004

  • Biffle wins the FORD 400; Busch wins the Nextel Cup Championship: #16-Greg Biffle made a bold move to pass #20-Tony Stewart and won the FORD 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his 2nd win of the season and 3rd of his career. #48-Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd but fell 8 points short of winning the 2004 Nextel Cup. #24-Jeff Gordon finished 3rd and 11 points out. Stewart ended up 4th, followed by #97-Kurt Busch, who won the 2004 Nextel Cup Championship. In quite a wild race that featured a record 14 cautions for 79 laps and lots of cut tires, Biffle domintated the first half of the race and worked his way back up to the top 10, then to the top five and on the final restart, powered his way to first to win the FORD 400 under the third ever Green-White-Checkers finish. Other Chasers, #6-Mark Martin finished 11th and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an ill-handling car all day and was never a factor, finishing 23rd. Busch wins $5,200,000 for the Championship and a fan, Patrick Beall, won $250,000 from Nextel for choosing Kurt Busch to win. The race will re-air on Speed Channel, Wednesday, November 24th at 8:00pm/et and Thursday, November 25th at 12:00am/et.
    For my race rundown/narraticve, see my The FORD 400 Race Info/Rundown Page
    Race Results at:
    JAYSKI’s FORD 400 Race Results/Awards page
    ThatsRacin.com
    MotorsportsOne
    NASCAR.com.(11-21-2004)
  • Here are the six closest championship-winning margins in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup history [modern era – 1972-present]:
    1. 2004 – Kurt Busch wins the titke by 8 points over Jimmie Johnson
    2. 1992 – Alan Kulwicki wins the title by 10 points over Bill Elliott
    3. 1979 – Richard Petty wins the title by 11 points over Darrell Waltrip
    4. 1989 – Rusty Wallace wins the title by 12 points over Dale Earnhardt
    5. 1997 – Jeff Gordon wins the title by 14 points over Dale Jarrett
    6. 1980 – Dale Earnhardt wins the title by 19 points over Cale Yarborough.(NASCAR PR)(11-21-2004)
  • Gaughan hinting….not back in the #77? Rookie Brendan Gaughan hinted yesterday he likely would not return to the #77 Kodak Dodge at Penske Racing South next season. Gaughan said he’d like to run a full Nextel Cup season again but would like to remain in a Dodge. He’s been linked the #0 Chevrolet of Haas CNC Racing.(Richmond Times Dispatch)
    AND Brendan Gaughan still doesn’t know if he is returning to his Penske-Jasper Racing team next season. Team officials have not yet picked up the option on Gaughan’s contract. “I have some plans, and no matter what I do, I’m going to be back running some Truck races for my team,” Gaughan said. “I could say yes to a lot of things, and I could say no to a lot of things. I think most other drivers are not in that position.”(ThatsRacin.com)(11-21-2004)
  • Homestead News and Notes: Greg Biffle won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, scoring his third career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 78th career start. His last victory came at Michigan August 22, 2004, 13 races ago. It was Biffle’s second victory in 2004.
    —- Biffle moved from 21st to 17th in the final point standings.
    —- Biffle scored his first victory and first top-10 finish in three races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His previous finishes were 25th in 2002 and 35th in 2003.
    —- All of Biffle’s victories have occurred on superspeedways.
    —- Biffle led four times for 117 laps including the final two of the 271 laps raced in 2004 Ford 400. He led the most laps for the second time in 2004.
    —- This was the 10th victory for Ford. Chevrolet had 22 and Dodge had four. Chevrolet leads Ford (556-554) in all-time victories (since 1949).
    —- Chevrolet won the 2004 Manufacturers’ Championship for the 28th time in NASCAR history, clinching the championship at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
    —- Jimmie Johnson (second) scored his 23rd top-10 finish of the season. It was third top-10 finish in four races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    —- Jeff Gordon (third) scored his 25th top-10 finish in 2004, the most of all drivers. It was his fifth top-10 finish in six races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    —- Tony Stewart (fourth) scored his 19th top-10 finish of the season. It was his fourth top-10 finish in six races Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    —- Kurt Busch (fifth) scored his 21st top-10 finish of the season. It was his second top-10 finish in five races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    —- Brendan Gaughan (sixth) scored his fourth top-10 finish in his 36th career start.
    —- By virtue of his fifth-place finish in the Ford 400, Kurt Busch won the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship. His final point total was 6,506 and he finished just eight points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the closest points finish in NASCAR history. Jeff Gordon finished third, 16 points behind the leader, followed by Mark Martin in fourth, 107 points back. Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth 138 point behind.
    —- Busch led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings for the final eight weeks of the 2004 season.
    —- Busch scored 21 top-10 finishes in 36 races this season.
    —- Kasey Kahne won the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award. He was the highest finishing rookie 19 times in 2004, 12 more than Brendan Gaughan. Kahne scored 13 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 2004. He finished second in five races in 2004.
    —- Just two of the top-10 positions in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed in the Ford 400. Mark Martin moved into fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. dropped to fifth in the final standings.
    —- Three of the top-10 drivers tied or scored their career-best point finishes: Kurt Busch (first), Jimmie Johnson (second for the second straight season), Elliott Sadler (ninth).
    —- Thirteen of the top-25 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed positions in the final race of the season.
    —- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader Bonus worth $70,000 was not won at Homestead Miami Speedway and will be divided incrementally among the final top-10 drivers and added to their season winnings.
    Notebook Items
    —- Only twice in the modern era has the point leader with one race to go been overtaken in the final race. It happened in 1979 when Richard Petty passed Darrell Waltrip and again in 1992 when Alan Kulwicki passed Davey Allison to win the championship.
    —- Four of the 10 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup posted top-10 finishes in the 2004 Ford 400.
    —- All 10 drivers competing in the Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup scored at least one victory in the first 26 races of the 2004 season and four of the 10 scored at least one victory in the final 10 races led by Jimmie Johnson who scored four victories in the final six races.
    —- Kurt Busch was the only driver to score a top-10 finish in nine of the 10 races in the Chase. No other driver scored more than seven top-10 finishes.
    —- Approximately $1 million will be paid to Jamie McMurray who finished 11th in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, an increase of more than $400,000 from over one year ago. That includes a $250,000 bonus, which will be paid to the 11th-place finisher. Additionally, McMurray will also join the top-10 drivers on the stage at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Ceremony in New York in December. McMurray took the 11th-place position by 320 points over 12th-place Bobby Labonte. McMurray scored top-10 finishes in 12 of the final 14 races in 2004.
    —- Four drivers have remained in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings all season: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth (19th) has ranked among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 71 straight races.. Kenseth moved into sole possession of ninth on NASCAR’s Top 10 list for consecutive races in the top-10 under the current point system (since 1975).
    2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion Kurt Busch #97 Sharpie/Irwin Ford
    —- Kurt Busch became the 27th driver to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship in the 56 seasons of NASCAR’s premier division. He won the championship by eight points over Jimmie Johnson, who finished in the second position for the second straight year.
    —- Busch is the sixth different champion in the last six seasons.
    —- Busch is 26 years old and from Las Vegas, NV. He becomes the fourth-youngest champion at 26 years, seven months.
    —- Busch’s title comes in his fourth full year in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and in his 150th race.
    —- This is the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship for car owner Jack Roush , both in the last two seasons. Roush is in his 17th season as a full-time owner.
    —- This is crew chief Jimmy Fennig’s first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. He is in his 18th season as a crew chief, the last three with Busch. He was the crew chief for Mark Martin the prior five seasons.
    —- Busch is the eighth Ford driver to win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship.
    —- Busch is the fifth champion in the last 10 seasons that did not have the most wins. He is the 18th in the Modern Era and the 26th in all 56 seasons.
    —- Busch was in the top 10 for the last 35 races of 2004. He was 16th after Race No. 1 (Daytona).
    —- Busch first led the standings following Race No. 7 (Texas). It was the second time he had ever led the championship standings, he also led following Rockingham in February 2003. He led for only one race, and though he tied Dale Earnhardt Jr., in points after his win in the first Chase race at New Hampshire, he did not lead the point standings until after the 25-point deduction from Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega. He held the lead for the final eight races of the season.
    —- His biggest point lead was 96 points following second Martinsville. His smallest lead was 12 points following second Talladega.
    —- Busch was in seventh place at the start of the Chase, 293 points behind before the adjustment and 30 behind after the adjustment.
    —- Busch began his racing career at age 14 in Dwarf Cars. He won titles in Dwarf Cars, Legends Cars, and Hobby Stock Cars.
    —- Busch was the 1998 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year. He won the series championship in 1999.
    —- In 2000 Busch was runner-up for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship in his rookie season in the series.
    2004 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year:
    —- Kasey Kahne won the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award, becoming the 48th winner of the award since the program began in 1957.
    —- Kahne, a 24-year-old from Enumclaw, WA, became the youngest Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year since Jeff Gordon (22 years old – 1993).
    —- Kahne is a pure rookie, starting his career-first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race in the Daytona 500.
    —- Kahne posted four Bud Poles and started on the front row eight times. He had 14 top-10 starts, including five top-fives in the first seven races.
    —- Kahne had 13 top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes in the 2004 season.
    —- Kahne tied Ryan Newman (2002) for the rookie record for most second place finishes (five).
    —- Kahne finished 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings.
    —- Kahne’s best point position was fourth following Race No. 4 (Atlanta); his worst points position was 41st following the season opener at Daytona.
    —- Kahne was in the top-10 for seven races in the 2004 season.
    Selected Streaks that were Extended this Season
    —- At least one Rookie-of-the-Year contender won a Bud Pole in each of the last nine years. (1996-2004).
    —- There has been a first-time Bud Pole winner in each of the last 18 years (1987-2004).
    —- Jeff Gordon has finished in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings in the last 11 years (1994-2004). Gordon finished the 2004 season ranked third in the final point standings.
    —- Tony Stewart has finished in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings in the last six years (1999-2004). Stewart finished sixth in the final 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
    Selected Streaks that Ended this Season
    —- There had been at least one first-time winner in each of the past 10 seasons (1994-2003). There was no first-time race winner in 2004.
    —- A Rookie-of-the-Year candidate had won at least one race in each of the last five years (1999-2003). No rookie contender was able to score a victory in 2004.
    —- Eight drivers who won in 2003, failed to win in 2004: Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, Ricky Craven, Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Robby Gordon and Terry Labonte.
    —- Dale Jarrett had the longest continuous winning streak, having won a race in each of the last 11 years (1993-2003). Jarrett failed to find victory lane in 2004.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-21-2004)
  • StockCarFans.com Nextel Cup Newsletter – Rumblings – Homestead: Greg Biffle had the dominant car most of the weekend, and proved it today when he led the final two laps to capture the Ford 406.5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After a green/white/checker finish (which cost Dale Jarrett greatly) Biffle got past Tony Stewart and went on to his second win of the season (he vanquished Michigan in May) and third of his career (he’s now in an 8-way tie for 83rd on the all-time win list). Win #74 for Roush Racing was worth $314,850 from the over $5.1M in posted awards. This win also knocked Jeremy Mayfield from the final spot on the Winners Circle contingency program for next season and put Biffle in that elite group of 10.
    It was a pretty good day for Jack Roush (massive understatement). He gets back-to-back Championships and takes the race as well. Kurt Busch edged out Jimmie Johnson by 8 points in the “Chase”, and comes on the heels of Matt Kenseth’s reign last year.
    Some pretty weird goings-on today: Questionable strategy, botched pit-stops, wheel failures, tire problems….it looked for awhile like this was the Championship no one wanted to claim.
    Tony Stewart (4th) had his best finish since he won at Watkins Glen in August.
    Brendan Gaughan (6th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Talladega in October.
    Scott Wimmer (13th) had his best finish since he was 11th at Pocono in July.
    John Andretti (20th) had his best finish since he was 16th at Chicagoland in July (only 4 races).
    Kenny Wallace (22nd) had his best finish since he was 22nd here last November (only 5 races).
    Martin Truex Jr. had his career-best finish today [32nd]. He was 37th in his only other start at Atlanta last month.
    STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 6 Top-10’s in a row.
    Kurt Busch has 9 Top-10’s in the last 10 races.
    Jamie McMurray has 6 Top-10’s in the last 7 races.
    Jeff Gordon has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
    This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Jimmie Johnson (+37), followed by Sterling Marlin (+22). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kasey Kahne (-34), followed by Mike Bliss (-28), Shane Hmiel (-28), and Ryan Newman (-27). Matt Kenseth won more Ops this year (5), while Johnson and Jeff Gordon were tied with 4 BD’s apiece this season.
    Our “Chase” Champion for 2004 is Kurt Busch, but that sigh of relief you here is from Daytona Beach since Dale Earnhardt Jr was more than 25 points behind. Jimmie Johnson edges out his teammate for the runner-up spot.
    In “Classic” Points, Kurt Busch is _only_ 247 points behind, but that seems to matter not. Jeff Gordon finishes 47 point ahead of Johnson with Little E third. Greg Biffle (21st to 17th) made the best move forward today, while Jeremy Mayfield (13th to 15th) fell two spots [in the classic].(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(11-21-2004)
  • Childress Announcement? in NYC? UPDATE 2 GM Goodwrench reassessing?: hearing that an announcement scheduled at RCR’s on Wednesday to announce Dave Blaney/Jack Daniels/Phillipe Lopez deal.(11-17-2004)
    AND? have heard Nothing about an announcement.(11-18-2004)
    UPDATE: had heard that the announcement would be on Saturday morning at Homestead, but now hearing the announcement will now be made in New York City the week of the Nextel Cup banquet [Dec 3rd on TNT].(11-19-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Richard Childress’ sponsorship announcements will apparently be postponed until NASCAR’s postseason New York City awards banquet. Childress is expected to announce Jack Daniel’s as a sponsor, with Dave Blaney as the driver. And Childress is expected to announce renewal of the long-running Goodwrench sponsorship. However, there has been speculation recently that General Motors has been reassessing its Goodwrench sponsorship because Childress’ operation hasn’t delivered socko returns over the past few years. But GM’s Doug Duchardt said his company understands the ups and downs of racing: “This business is cyclical. One thing I see is that there has been some stability since Jeff Burton has come. We’ve seen them start to run better. How many times have we seen Robby Gordon in the top-five and Kevin Harvick, only to have some issues? “I expect Richard to get back. Kevin was fifth last year in points. So those guys have the potential to do it; they just have to get back on their game.”(Winston Salem Journal)(11-21-2004)
  • How far has NASCAR come? This weekend’s All Things Considered on National Public Radio ran a four-minute segment on the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale, the change in the points sytem this season and the close points race. NPR also spent about a minute discussing the change in team sponsorship policy for next season regarding distilled spirits’ sponsorship. Outside of the drivers at the top of the points, the only other driver mentioned? Morgan Shepherd of Conover, N.C., the 62-year-old driver of the #89 Racing With Jesus Dodge. Incidentally, that was the only sponsor mentioned too. Obviously, the discussion of Shepherd didn’t come up with in the championship chase segment.(Williams Company PR)(11-21-2004)
  • Streak Could End: A Raybestos Rookie has won at least one race in each of the last FIVE seasons dating back to Tony Stewart’s win at Richmond International Raceway in September, 1999. Other freshman drivers to win: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Richmond, 2000), Matt Kenseth (Charlotte, 2000), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta, 2001), Ryan Newman (New Hampshire 2002), Jimmie Johnson (California and both 2002 Dover races) and Greg Biffle (Pepsi 400 at Daytona, 2003). All these drivers are still with the team they came into Cup with. The record for most wins by a Raybestos Rookie is three, shared by Johnson (2002) and Stewart (1999).(Camp and Assoc PR). NASCAR’s Rookie Points Standings are now WAY off mine, looks like they are counting more then 17 races, have not heard that it changed as I have not seen the ROTY Rules for 2004 and gave up asking for them.(11-18-2004)
    UPDATE: the streak ended.(11-21-2004)
  • some scenarios – for each driver: Heading into Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, here are some scenarios under which drivers can clinch the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title.
    The top five drivers in the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings are separated by 82 points – the closest margin in NASCAR history with one race remaining. It’s also the second-highest number of drivers eligible to win the title with one race remaining (six drivers were separated by 113 points at this stage in 1992). The closest finish in NASCAR history came in 1992, when the late Alan Kulwicki won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title by 10 points over Bill Elliott.
    The eventual champion likely must win the Ford 400 (worth 180 points), plus earn all 10 bonus points available (five for leading a lap, five for leading the most laps) to assure himself of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Many championship-winning scenarios are possible depending on how the five contenders finish Sunday at Homestead, but the surest path to the 2004 title is via Victory Lane. The Ford 400 is the 10th race of the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” the series’ new method for crowning a champion, and race No. 36 of the 36-event NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. Below are the drivers eligible to win the 2004 championship:
    1. Kurt Busch
    2. Jimmie Johnson (trails by 18)
    3. Jeff Gordon (trails by 21)
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (trails by 72)
    5. Mark Martin (trails by 82)
    Kurt Busch (#97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford – starts 1st) will win the championship if he wins the Ford 400. He can also win the championship if he finishes second and earns five bonus points for leading at least one lap.
    Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – starts 39th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and leads the most laps (for the maximum 190 points), and Busch finishes second without leading a lap, or finishes third but doesn’t lead the most laps, or finishes fourth or lower.
    Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet – starts 5th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. Busch also must finish third or lower and not lead a lap, or finish fourth or lower and lead a lap, or finish fifth or lower and lead the most laps.
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8 Budweiser Chevrolet – starts 16th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. He also needs Busch to finish 15th or lower and not lead a lap, Johnson to finish 10th or lower and not lead a lap and Gordon to finish ninth or lower and not lead a lap.
    Mark Martin (#6 Viagra Ford – starts 11th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. He also needs Busch to finish 19th or lower and not lead a lap, Johnson to finish 13th or lower and not lead a lap and Gordon to finish 12th or lower and not lead a lap. Earnhardt Jr.’s finish wouldn’t matter as long as he doesn’t lead a lap. If Martin wins the race and Earnhardt Jr. finishes second and leads the most laps, the two would be tied and Earnhardt Jr. would win the tiebreaker (number of 2004 wins).(NASCAR PR)(11-21-2004)
  • Popular in Canada: A study of the popularity of NASCAR in Canada may be seen in today’s editions of the Toronto Sun. It’s Grey Cup week, the Argonauts are in the big game … and the paper is devoting two full pages to NASCAR’s Homestead finale. It’s little wonder that NASCAR executives are studying the Canadian market so intently. There has been speculation that Montreal’s Formula One road course could be the site of a NASCAR Nextel Cup race eventually.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-21-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 20, 2004

  • Rick Hendrick at the track: mulit-team owner [#5,#24,#25,#48], Rick Hendrick, is at the track and made a statement today in the media center, thanking the racing community and fans for their support in the aftermath of the tragic plane crash. No questions were taken, to see Hendrick’s comments in full, see my Hendrick Tragedy Page.(11-20-2004)
  • NYC Blitz: NASCAR sponsor Nextel plans to have numerous signs throughout New York as part of the sanctioning body’s Champions Week celebration Nov. 28-Dec. 3, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The company’s black and yellow colors will be on 10 airport shuttles, 25 taxi tops, 25 phone kiosks around the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, 30 street vendor carts and 250,000 coffee cups around the city. Eight team show cars are scheduled for appearances at numerous locations, including Madison Square Garden, the Plaza Hotel and Times Square, starting Nov. 29.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-20-2004)
  • Randy Dorton/Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown: The event began with a moment of silence, but the roar of 600-horsepower engines soon filled the room as Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group employees gathered this week for the third annual Randy Dorton/Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. Sponsored by Dana Corp., the two-day contest teamed Hendrick Motorsports engine builders with Hendrick Automotive Group certified master technicians for head-to-head competition. Twelve pairs were clocked until their respective powerplant established a one-minute run after complete assembly, with the shortest elapsed time taking home first-place honors. Monday’s qualifying round set the grid for Tuesday’s finals, with the team of Jon Young and Mike Maiwald posting a build of 20 minutes, 52 seconds to tie the event record and earn the victory. Young is a Hendrick certified master tech from Gwinnett Place Honda in Atlanta, while Maiwald, of Hendrick Motorsports, is NASCAR’s defending Engine Builder of the Year. For his efforts, Young was presented with an all-expenses-paid trip to the February 2005 events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Runner-up Vince Bonfiglio, who teamed with Larry Zentmeyer, was also presented with a Daytona vacation package. Bonfiglio represented Hendrick BMW of Charlotte.” This is a wonderful event that recognizes the > ‘> best of the best> ‘> in our industry,” said Jim Perkins, Hendrick Automotive Group CEO. “It gives us the opportunity to bring the two companies together and acknowledge the contributions of our top-level staff.” The brainchild of Rick Hendrick and the late Randy Dorton, the Showdown draws from more than 800 Automotive Group technicians, taking the 12 that are deemed most qualified by a one-of-a-kind Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exam created specifically for Hendrick employees. Those 12 are then paired with Hendrick Motorsports engine builders. Hendrick is owner of NASCAR operation Hendrick Motorsports, and chairman of the Hendrick Automotive Group, an organization comprised of 64 car dealerships across the United States, from the Carolinas to California. Dorton, recognized as one of the most gifted engine builders in NASCAR history, won nine championships during his two-decade tenure as head of Hendrick Motorsports’ engine department before tragically losing his life Oct. 24. The Showdown was officially renamed in his honor shortly afterward. A silent moment of remembrance opened the competition at the Hendrick Motorsports Museum in Charlotte, and many of the participants wore red — Dorton’ s favorite color — throughout the two-day experience.(HMS PR)(11-20-2004)
  • Robby to Ford? Robby Gordon is ramping up his own NASCAR Cup tour [#7] team for 2005. While Gordon has strong NASCAR ties with Chevrolet, Ford officials have reportedly made him a lavish sponsorship offer to field a Ford next season on the NASCAR tour, and it is unclear if GM executives are willing spend what it would take to keep Gordon in the fold. Gordon, though, said he would prefer to stay with Chevrolet.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)
  • Berrier to Ganassi? there is speculation of a shakeup in the #29 Kevin Harvick operation, with crew chief Todd Berrier perhaps moving to the Chip Ganassi camp.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)
  • More Slugger Rumors: over at Joe Gibbs’ camp, general manager Jimmy Makar said he’s still not happy with the shape of the #18 Bobby Labonte team, despite a mid-summer shakeup [Fatback out, Thomas in]. Richard “Slugger” Labbe, crew chief for #15-Michael Waltrip’s two Daytona 500 wins, has been under consideration for a job at Gibbs. However, Labbe is also under consideration for a job with Childress.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)
  • Zippy Sick..but gutting it out: Greg Zipadelli, #20-Tony Stewart’s crew chief, is painfully ill with an excruciating spleen ailment, but Zipadelli is here this weekend working on Stewart’s car. Zipadelli is ignoring doctors who want him in bed for four to six weeks of rest.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 19, 2004

  • Shepherd on ESPN.com: there is a video on ESPN.com’s RPM site with Morgan Shepherd discussing his season and team, there is now a direct link to the story at ESPN.com: It’s A Living.(11-18/19-2004)
  • Noticed…a sign? the NetZeroracing.com site now forwards you to the regular NetZero sight, leaving the sport? NetZero currently is the sponsor of the #0 Haas-CNC Racing team, driver is Mike Bliss [was Ward Burton](11-19-2004)
  • Soooo: if next years rumored qualifying rules go into place, with the top 35 in owners points are assured a spot in the field, #45-Petty would be in the race and if they took the next 8 fastest, #00-Wallace would be out of the race.(11-19-2004)
  • Busch last out, grabs the pole for the Ford 400: Points leader, #97-Kurt Busch, will start the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the Budweiser poleafter running a lap of 179.319mph, knocking his Roush Racing teammate, #16-Greg Biffle, off the pole. It is Busch’s first pole of the year, first in two years, last pole was at Homestead in 2002, and his third of his career. It is only the third pole of the season for Ford. Biffle will start 2nd, followed by #12-Ryan Newman, #9-Kasey Kahne and #24-Jeff Gordon. 2nd in points, #48-Jimmie Johnson picked a bad time to have to use a provisional and will start 39th. With the large amount of cars making attempts, we had one full-time driver miss the race, #45-Kyle Petty the other 12 missing the show were part-timers. Some part-timers making the race unclude #06-Travis Kavapil, #23-Shane Hmiel and #36-Boris Said.
  • Other Homestead Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Links at:
    Jayski’s FORD 400 Starting Lineup/Qualifying Page
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    NASCAR.com.(11-19-2004)
  • Robby Racing in Baja AND: haven’t found much, but Robby made it to Homestead and qualified the #31 Cingular Chevy. From some reports, Robby’s truck broke out on the course.. For updates on the race, see robbygordon.com.(11-19-2004)
    AND: After three trips to Baja for pre-runs and shakedowns of the truck, the race got off to a great start for Robby Thursday morning. He was the 7th Trophy Truck to start the race, and by the 200 mile mark had a fivr minute lead. Robby drove as far as Loreto, Mexico (about 2/3 of the way down) when he had to leave to fly to Florida. At the time of the driver swap, he had a 30 minute lead. When he got to Brownsville, TX to clear customs at 5:00am/et, he found out that the truck had broken a ring & pinion and was out of the race. At the time of the breakage, they still had over a half hour lead. Robby leaves immediately after the Homestead race for Morocco to practice for the Paris-Dakkar rally in a Red Bull sponsored VW Taureg. The race starts in Paris on January 1st.(11-20-2004)
  • Johnson and team disappear after poor qualifying: The car cover was wrapped tightly around the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, its driver and crew long gone for the day. All around the garage, teams worked feverishly on their cars, but Jimmie Johnson was nowhere to be found. The absence of the Hendrick Motorsports team after qualifying Friday raised eyebrows everywhere at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Did they go home in disgust after qualifying 39th for Sunday’s season finale — Johnson’s worst starting position of the year? Or were they playing mind games with the competition? No one was really sure. All that was certain was that it was unusual for Johnson to qualify so poorly. His effort was the worst of his career, surpassing two 37th-place starting spots last season. But even stranger was that noted perfectionist Chad Knaus, the crew chief, wasn’t tearing the car apart trying to figure out what went wrong. “I heard him on the radio — it didn’t sound like he was disappointed in the lap,” Jeff Gordon, Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said. “It sounded like the speed wasn’t there.” Johnson heads into Sunday’s season finale trailing series leader Kurt Busch by 18 points in the race for the Nextel Cup. Gordon is third in the standings, three points behind Johnson. Robbie Loomis, Gordon’s crew chief and Knaus’ partner in strategy, said it was way too early to count Johnson out. “They probably are as strong as anybody in this garage when they have their backs stacked up against the wall,” Loomis said.(AP/CBS Sportsline)(11-19-2004)
  • Stewart Buys A Race Track after years of rumors……..Tony Stewart has purchased Eldora Speedway from legendary owner Earl Baltes. Known as “Auto Racing’s Showcase since 1954” thanks in large part to Baltes’ vision and hands-on management, Eldora is a half-mile clay oval with an estimated seating capacity of nearly 20,000 that features some of the most prominent racing divisions in the country. “Eldora was a premiere racing facility long before I started racing there in 1991, and it’s our goal to build on the tradition Earl and his wife Berneice started back in 1954,” said Stewart, whose new role as a track owner augments his team ownership in the World of Outlaws and USAC racing series. “Eldora has been extremely successful for both its competitors and its fans. We have no intention of changing the look and feel of the race track. We want to maintain the Eldora experience fans have grown to love and appreciate over the years.”
    Signature events pioneered by Baltes will also continue. The World 100, The Dirt Late Model Dream, the King’s Royal, the Mopar Thunder, the Eldora Clash, the USAC Buckeye Nationals and the UMP National Championship will all return in 2005, as will its regular order of weekly racing action. And while not yet official, the 2005 racing schedule will be similar in scope to the 2004 calendar. Ticket information will remain available on www.eldoraspeedway.com or by calling (937) 338-3815.
    With Baltes’ retirement, Stewart has named Larry Kemp as promoter and general manager and Larry Boos as director of facility and race day operations. Kemp comes to Eldora after having served as an owner, promoter and general manager of several local race tracks dating back to 1980. The Vinton, Iowa, native has held management positions at many of his home state tracks including 34 Raceway in Burlington, Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids and Benton County Speedway in Vinton. He most recently served as the promoter and general manager of Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway. Throughout his motorsports career he has received such accolades as the “Regional Promoter of the Year” in 1984, 1986, 1997 and 1998 as well as the 1998 “Auto Racing Promoter of the Year” by the RPM (Racing Promotion Monthly) Promoter’s Workshop. Outside of track management, Kemp has also promoted and operated the IMCA Florida Series from 1979 to 1986, developed the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour for dirt late models in 1983, originated the IMCA Late Model Summer Series in 1985 and operated the McLeod Gold Star Series for asphalt late models from 1997 to 1999. “With the experienced staff we’ve put in place we’re extremely confident we can follow in Earl’s successful footsteps,” said Stewart. “The history of Eldora is alive and well and no one wants to see this race track flourish more than me. Everyone can rest assured that Eldora is in good hands.”(True Speed Communication PR)(11-19-2004)
  • Qualifying News and Notes:
    Kurt Busch won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Bud Pole for the Ford 400, lapping Homestead-Miami Speedway in 30.114 seconds at 179.319 mph. Jamie McMurray holds the track-qualifying record of 29.816 seconds, 181.111 mph, set in 2003, the first year on the high-banked configuration.
    This is Busch’s third career Bud Pole in 150 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. His most recent Bud Pole came here at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2002, 72 races ago.
    It is Busch’s 14th top-10 start in 2004. It is also his second Bud Pole and his fourth top-10 start in five races at Miami.
    Busch became the 12th different Bud Pole winner in 2004.
    Greg Biffle had the second-fastest time with a qualifying lap of 30.116 seconds at 179.307mph and will join Busch on the all-Roush Racing front row. It is his 17th top-10 start 2004 and his second in his three races at Miami.
    This is the third Bud Pole for Ford in 2004. Dodge has 17 Bud Poles and Chevrolet has 12. Qualifying was canceled at Watkins Glen, second Michigan, second New Hampshire and Darlington due to weather.
    Ryan Newman (third) posted his 26th top-10 start in 2004, more than any other driver. Newman, who had won the previous four Bud Poles, fell just short of tying the modern-era record for consecutive Bud Poles, though his would not have been in consecutive races. Qualifying was canceled at Darlington last week. Bobby Allison (1972) and Cale Yarborough (1980) have the record of five consecutive Bud Poles while Bill Elliott (1985) also had five straight with one session rained-out during the streak.
    Kasey Kahne (fourth) posted his 15th top-10 start in 2004 in his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Miami. Kahne posted his career-first NASCAR Busch Series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003.
    Jeff Gordon (fifth) posted his 22nd top-10 start in 2004 and his third in six races at Miami.
    Four of the 10 drivers involved in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualified in the top-10 for the season finale: Busch, Newman, Gordon and Tony Stewart (eighth).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-19-2004)
  • StockCarFans.com (Nextel Cup) Newsletter – Ramblings – Homestead:
    They saved the best for the end today as Kurt Busch went out last and grabbed the Bud Pole for Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch’s time of 30.114 seconds (179.319) was 2/1000th’s of a second quicker than teammate Greg Biffle and gives him his first pole since he had the top-spot here in November of 2000! This is career pole #3 for Kurt.
    Busch becomes the 12th different driver to capture a Bud Pole this year, and qualifies for next February’s Budweiser Shootout (hey, it’s less than 3 months away!).
    We’ve got the Big 5 sprinkled thoughout the field. Busch at the front, Jeff Gordon in 5th, Mark Martin in 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr in 16th, and Jimmie Johnson will step off from 39th!
    Greg Biffle (2nd) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Daytona for the 500.
    Ricky Rudd (7th) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Talladega in October.
    Shane Hmiel (13th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 29th at Fontana in September.
    Scott Wimmer (21st) has his best starting spot since he lined up 21st at Richmond in September.
    Mike Wallace (28th) has his best starting spot since he started 23rd at Phoenix in November of 2003 (only 10 races).
    Greg Sacks (34th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 28th at Texas in April of 1998 (only 3 races).
    STREAKIN….Ryan Newman has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
    Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10 starts in a row.
    A big-time car count of 56 this weekend….55 took a time (Geoffrey Bodine did not make an attempt). The Trouble Train included: Kyle Petty (he was a DNQ here last year as well), Johnny Sauter, Mike Garvey, Tony Raines, Kevin Lepage, Todd Bodine, Larry Foyt, J. J. Yeley, Randy LaJoie, Morgan Shepherd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Carl Long, and Geoffrey Bodine. Provisionals were taken by: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, Terry Labonte, and Ken Schrader. For Johnson & Mears, they made it till the last race before using a freebie (and in Mears’ case, he crashed coming to the green).(read more at Stock Car Fans)(11-19-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 18, 2004

  • A five way tie? #6-Mark Martin wins the race but doesn’t lead the most laps. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes second and gets bonus points for leading a lap. #24-Jeff Gordon finishes 13th. #48-Jimmie Johnson finishes 14th, and #97-Kurt Busch finishes 20th. The result is that all five end the season with 6,449 points. Johnson get the championship on the tiebreaker with a season-high eight victories.(Alabama Live)(11-18-2004)
  • #14 Racing to bridge the hunger gap: As this year’s Nextel Cup Series concludes with the November 21 race at Homestead Raceway in Miami, ppc Racing and team driver John Andretti will be aligning themselves with a national nonprofit hunger-relief organization. ppc Racing, a well established result-oriented NASCAR Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup operation, has generously offered the Society of St. Andrew a desirable location on Car #14 for their “Endhunger.org” logo. The Society of St. Andrew, a non-denominational hunger-relief organization, has been bridging the hunger gap in this country for 25 years. They have engaged nearly 260,000 volunteers to save 465 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food that would have gone to waste and used it instead to feed hungry Americans. All that food, which was left behind after harvests and would have been plowed under, was donated and provided 1.4 Billion servings to the hungry. Almost anywhere you find NASCAR fans the Society of St. Andrew has helped feed the hungry. With national headquarters in Virginia and gleaning operations in 21 states coast to coast, the society delivers food to the 48 contiguous states. “I feel honored to help in any effort to feed the hungry or those in need,” said Greg Pollex. “We all must remember our fellow man this holiday season and every day of the year. During our busy schedules, we so often forget those in need. It is our duty as Christians to help others. We encourage NASCAR fans to donate to this worthy cause.” For more information about the Society of St. Andrew and it’s hunger-relief programs call toll free 800-333-4597 and online www.endhunger.org.(11-18-2004)
  • USG to the #17: nothing official, but looks like USG will leave the #01 MB2 Motorsports team and go to #17-Matt Kenseth, running the USG scheme at the races at Californinia in February, The Brickyard 400 and Atlanta in the fall. See an image of the car on my 2005 #17 Paint Schemes page.(11-18-2004)
  • 5 Millions Bucks – Weekly Update: A NASCAR fan who experiences a “sixth sense” towards the end of the season may find his/herself $5 million richer. That’s because with the Chase for the Championship coming to a close, the inaugural NEXTEL Cup Championship isn’t the only prize on the line. Should the six Gillette Young Guns – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick – finish the Ford 400 at Miami-Homestead Speedway race in the top six spots, and a consumer correctly picks their order of finish at www.gilletteyoungguns.com, they will be entered into a random drawing to collect a grand prize of $5 million dollars. And if there is a consumer winner, Gillette will also donate $5 million to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) as well.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-17-2004)
    Gillette Young Guns – Weekly Update: If the Gillette Young Guns sweep the top six positions at the Ford 400 on November 21, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a fan correctly predicts the order in which they finish by registering at www.gilletteyoungguns.com,they will be entered into a random drawing for $5 million. Plus, if a fan wins $5 million, Gillette will make a matching $5 million charitable contribution to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC). By picking Jimmie Johnson as the top Gillette Young Gun finisher in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Nov. 14th, Cheryl P. of Aurora, IL was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Cheryl picked Johnson as the highest finishing 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 Johnson. This is the 12th time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Johnson.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-18-2004)
  • Crew Chief Changes at Hendrick? hearing Hendrick Motorsports will make some changes with the #5 Kelloggs team [2005 driver Kyle Busch] and #25-Brian Vickers, supposedly starting with the crew chiefs.(11-18-2004)
  • NASCAR Family Feud – This Week UPDATE Game 1: NASCAR and Family Feud have teamed up to create a week of special NASCAR-themed game play. NASCAR drivers – representing NASCAR’s top three competition series – will lead their NASCAR families – made up of crew chiefs, pit crew members, family members, and more – in the ‘Survey Says!’ game show format to benefit their favorite charities. Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ is scheduled to air the week of November 15-19 [was Nov 8-12].
    Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ participating drivers and the charities they will be playing for are:
    Ward Burton [former driver of #0 NetZero car] for The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation;
    #29-Kevin Harvick for Victory Junction Gang Camp;
    Truck Series Driver, #22-Bill Lester for Urban Youth Racing School;
    #40-Sterling Marlin for Boys and Girls Club of Nashville;
    #19-Jeremy Mayfield for Victory Junction Gang Camp;
    #41-Casey Mears for Target House;
    #38-Elliott Sadler for Autism Society of America;
    Busch Series Driver of the #23 Stacker 2 Chevy Kenny Wallace for Autism Society of America.
    The matchups:
    Jeremy Mayfield 497 vs Kevin Harvick 276, Mayfield’s team won the $20,000
    Kenny Wallace 365 vs Ward Burton 283, Wallace’s team lost the final, gets $2,500
    Casey Mears 413 vs Scott Wimmer 24, Mears team won the $20,000
    Sterling Marlin vs Elliott Sadler
    Bill Lester vs David Green
    more info at the Family Feud Site.
    (Charlotte/Mooresville Channel 46-UPN 2:00pm/et)(11-3/18-2004)
  • BAM Racing gearing up – three car team in 2005: BAM Racing has two entries in Sunday’s Ford 400. Veteran Ken Schrader, who has made the field for every race this season, once again will drive the #49, and Larry Foyt will try to qualify a second Dodge, the #70. Joining Schrader for testing recently at Homestead were Foyt, son of the legendary A.J. Foyt, and Klaus Graf, a road-racing German with little experience on ovals. Graf spun out and crashed, “so we made the determination not to even try to qualify with him,” Tony Morgenthau said. The mishap didn’t change the Morgenthaus’ plans for 2005 — they hope to campaign Schrader and Foyt full time and Graf for a partial season. “The reason for (three cars) is not an egomania thing,” Tony Morgenthau said. “The real reason is the testing. NASCAR is very strict on the number of tests you can run on their tracks. It’s seven per car. So if you have two cars, you can test at 14 tracks.” Sponsorship is in place for Schrader, with Schwan’s Home Service, the home-delivery service of the Schwan Food Company, signed on for two more years. As for the Foyt and Graf cars, Tony Morgenthau said the team is negotiating with “about four multibillion-dollar companies that have never been in NASCAR,” and a possible international sponsor for Graf. “There’s a lot of interest in Europe about his driving ability that he can go from the Porsche Supercup cars to a NASCAR car,” Tony Morgenthau said.(Palm Beach Post)(11-18-2004)
  • McMurray’s Crew Takes Darlington Win – 1 point separates #20 and #8: Just like the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade is also going down to the final race of the season. Entering this weekend’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a mere one point in the McDonald’s/POWERade standings separates the top two crews of Tony Stewart (1227) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1226). Elliott Sadler’s crew is third (1211) and Kurt Busch’s crew is fourth (1210). The McDonald’s/POWERade season champion pit crew will be awarded a $200,000 bonus. In Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Jamie McMurray’s pit crew won the McDonald’s/POWERade competition and picked up the weekly purse of $20,000. It was the second win of the season for the No. 42 crew. McMurray’s Texaco/Havoline Dodge spent the least amount of time on Darlington’s pit road with a time of 387.121 seconds. Jeff Burton’s AOL Chevrolet was second at 425.823 and Carl Edwards’ World Financial Group Ford was third at 428.261. “This is cool for the guys on the Texaco/Havoline team,” said McMurray. “They’ve worked really hard this year, and have shown that we’re a championship caliber team. It’s cool that they are being recognized for their hard work.”
    The No. 42 over-the-wall crew consists of: Bobby Burrell (front tire changer), Darren Jolly (front tire carrier), David Collins (rear tire changer), Scott Myers (rear tire carrier), Mark Cass (jackman), Mike Bodick (gas man) and Heath Silver (catch can). Donnie Wingo is the crew chief and Mike Brill is the car chief.(DMF Commincations PR), for the top-10 at Darlington and season standings for all the teams, see my Pit Crew News page.(11-18-2004)
  • National Guard returns to the #16 in 2005: The National Guard and Roush Racing announced an extension of their NASCAR Nextel Cup partnership into the 2005 season. The National Guard will maintain its primary role with Roush Racing’s #16 NASCAR Nextel Cup entry and driver Greg Biffle. “We couldn’t be happier with the program at Roush Racing,” said LTG Roger Schultz, Director of the Army National Guard. “Greg, Doug (Richert, crew chief) and the team there have done an excellent job representing the Guard and we want to continue the relationship we’ve built over the last 10 months.” The National Guard began their involvement in NASCAR in 2002 and joined Roush Racing last December. In a partnership with Subway, Travelodge and Jackson Hewitt, the National Guard took on a primary role with the #16 team and debuted their signature red, white and blue Ford shortly before the Daytona 500. For more information, visit the National Guard website at www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com.(Roush Racing PR)(11-18-2004)
  • Delaware Student Honored: Jed Bell of Houston, DE, a sophomore at Milford High, received a $1,000 scholarship as part of the YJ Stinger’s “Race to Bee Safe” program. He is automatically eligible to win an additional $20,000 scholarship in a nationwide contest. Bell was among 250 students who participated in the safe-driving program when it visited Milford with Busch Series driver Kenny Wallace on Sept. 23. His 500-word essay on the importance of safe driving was deemed the winner.(Delaware News Journal)(11-18-2004)
  • Petty switches Engines? UPDATE 3 to Evernham: hearing that Petty Enterprises [PE], with drivers #45-Kyle Petty and #43-Jeff Green, will run Arrington Engines the rest of 2004 after Talladega and will supposedly have Evernham engines in 2005. Currently PE uses Mike Ege engines.(10-1-2004)
    UPDATE: Petty Enterprises will have a new engine supplier for 2005, Kyle Petty confirmed Saturday, but it is unclear who will build engines for Petty and Jeff Green next season. Mike Ege Racing Engines, which has built engines for the Pettys since 2002, will not return next year. “We’re at that time in the season where we need to be making a change,” Petty said. “We’ve talked about it for the last three or four months with Mike Ege Racing Engines, and it’s come to a point where it’s time to make a move. Next year, we’ll do something different.” The Dodges of Petty and Green will use Ege engines in this weekend’s EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, and Ege has the option of staying with Petty Enterprises the rest of this year. “We’ve left that option up to him, if he chose to continue it or if he chose not to,” Petty said. “We’ll go from there. We have his stuff in down here.” But who will be in the #43 and #45 in 2005? Petty said rumors about a switch to Evernham Engines or Arrington Engines are simply rumors. “There are rumors about everything, man,” Petty said. “There are rumors I’m going to retire. What are you gonna do? That’s why they’re called rumors.” The team won’t return to building its own engines, as it did from 1949-2001. “We talked about it three or four months ago, whether we wanted to open our stuff back up,” Petty said. “We made a decision at this point in time not to go down that road. If we were two or three years further down the road, then, yeah, we’d probably look at it. But right now, no.”(NASCAR.com)(10-3-2004)
    UPDATE 2a: been told Petty Enterprises #43-Jeff Green and #45-Kyle Petty will NOT run Mike Ege Racing Engines at Kansas, but have not heard what engines will be run.
    UPDATE 2b: Ray Evernham says he hasn’t signed any agreements with Petty Enterprises, but he is talking with them and some other teams about providing engines in 2005.(NASCAR Scene print)(10-8-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises will begin using Evernham Motorsports engines beginning with testing for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. The organization fields the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge of driver Jeff Green and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge of driver Kyle Petty. Petty Enterprises is the winningest organization in major league motorsports.
    “We are constantly looking for ways to improve our performance and to run better as a team,” said Petty, who is also CEO of Petty Enterprises, “We at Petty Enterprises worked very closely with Evernham Motorsports to develop the Dodge program. Ray has been very gracious in his comments about the role of Petty Enterprises in that effort. We have continued to work closely with Evernham and with Dodge on many aspects of our program since then, and we see this alliance in the engine program as a natural evolution of our relationship.
    “Evernham Motorsports has really moved into the forefront in regards to Dodge engine development and we’re excited to be part of that,” Petty continued. “We’ve made some big strides with our chassis and bodies, so this was obviously the next step.”
    In its fourth year of operation, Evernham Motorsports has moved to the elite among NASCAR teams. The organization, which has one driver in the Chase For The Championship and a second 12th in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings while leading Rookie of the Year, has 13 poles, five race wins, 45 top fives and 81 top 10s.
    “We have been working with Kyle and Petty Enterprises on behalf of Dodge the past four years, and they have a solid organization. The chassis are pretty much where they want them to be,” Evernham said. “We feel we can help them on the horsepower side as well, and help them continue to build their program. We’re all very excited at working even more closely with Petty Enterprises in 2005.”(Williams Company PR)(11-18-2004)
  • #99 Sponsorship Still Uncertain for 2005: According to Roush Racing president, Geoff Smith, the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford Taurus will likely once again carry a mosaic of sponsors during the 2005 season. Smith says that there could be up to four different sponsors on the Carl Edwards entry. Edwards was asked at Darlington what if he knew his 2005 plans, a question he answered with one word—drive.” “I don’t know if it’ll be Trucks, Busch or Cup,” Edwards added, “but whatever they want me to drive I’m going to drive it as hard as I can; and get the best result I can.” Smith agreed. “We’re going to run him hard,” said Smith with a grin. Smith is very pleased with the results Edwards is showing so far, and that was before he popped of his seventh place finish at Darlington this week. “He’s just so smooth and knows when to let and all hang out. He never fails to impress when he’s behind the wheel.” Smith did tell TFR that in 2006 he’d have a full sponsorship package for the #99.(Team Ford Racing)(11-18-2004)
  • Enterprise to sponsor Truex Jr. at Homestead. After the NASCAR time trials were cancelled in New Hampshire, Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) assured Enterprise that it would honor its promise to enter Martin Truex Jr. and DEI’s #1 Enterprise Rent-A-Car Chevrolet in a NEXTEL race this season. The race has been selected and Enterprise will finally have its NASCAR debut at Homestead Miami Speedway.(PR)(11-18-2004)
  • #51 gets sponsor, Consort for Homestead: Former Miami Dolphin Half Back, MVP Joe Auer is bringing his NASCAR Nextel Cup team #51 to the Ford 400 this weekend in Homestead to attempt to qualify. His driver, Tony Raines, and team, Competitive Edge Motorsports (CEM) is getting together with Consort Hair Care for the last race of the season at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because his team is only running a partial schedule this year, they are 47th in owner points and they have to qualify in the top 38. “Provisionals are not really an option. Sometimes, it is very nerve racking,” Auer said. “It is great to be back in the neighborhood I grew up in. Seeing some old friends and relatives is always nice.” CEM and Tony Raines have their work cut out for them this weekend with 56 entrants for 38 spots. They do have a couple of angles though. Tony Raines qualified 19th here last year and placed 13th in the same car in his rookie year. For more information about Consort, visit www.savetheregularguy.com.(Competitive Edge Motorsports PR)(11-18-2004)
  • Evernham Motorsports wins the championship: Evernham Motorsports won the Inaugural Totally Racin’ Flag Football League Championship, beating Roush Racing 40-35. Totally Racin’ Softball and Flag Football League founder/coordinator Bob Hubner is now looking to start a Totally Racin’ Basketball League in January 2005 for NASCAR Teams in the Mooresville/Charlotte, NC area. More info at racecityresumes.com.(11-18-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 17, 2004

  • Toyota Cup Plans on hold? Toyota. It seems the powers that be at Toyota aren’t in a hurry to jump on to the top rung of the NASCAR competition ladder. In this week’s Automotive News, Mark Rechtin gleaned from an interview with Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development, that Toyota has put its plans on hold for NEXTEL Cup because NASCAR is considering announcing major changes to its chassis and engine specifications either after this year or after the 2005 season. Toyota had originally planned on being at Daytona in February, 2007, but those plans seem uncertain, at best. Maybe a breath of fresh air will blow through TRD, and they’ll put their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup plans on ice – permanently. After all, one of these manufacturers is bound to get smart when it comes to NASCAR, and it might as well be Toyota, since Detroit seems incapable of any rational thought when it comes to the subject of the France family’s little ol’ marketing franchise. Toyota just might come to realize that they don’t need NASCAR’s “spec car” formula to be successful in their marketing efforts. They certainly have done just fine without NASCAR up until this point, haven’t they?(autoextremist.com)(11-17-2004)
  • Lots of Cash on the line: Nextel and NASCAR unveiled a record Nextel Cup Series points fund of more than $24 million to be distributed among the top 25 drivers at the end of the 2004 season. The payout guarantees each of the top 11 drivers at least $1 million for the first time in the sport’s history. “The Nextel Cup Series is America’s most widely attended spectator sport, and the structure of this year’s points fund reflects NASCAR’s popularity and Nextel’s commitment to this sport,” said Tim Donahue, Nextel’s president and chief executive officer. “NASCAR Nextel Cup Series teams compete on the highest level for 10 months out of the year, and we are proud to honor the drivers and teams for their hard work and achievement.” The previous record points fund payout was $21,031,000 in 2003. This year’s record payout significantly ups the ante for drivers. The 10 drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup are competing for the lion’s share of the purse – $5.2 million – as well as the title of Nextel Cup Series champion. The points fund provides incentive for teams not contending for the Nextel Cup trophy, as the 11th place driver will win a minimum of $1 million. R.J. Reynolds’ Winston brand began the points fund in 1971 to award end-of-season bonus money to teams. The 1971 purse totaled $100,000, including a $40,000 bonus for the series champion Richard Petty. This year’s $5.2 million champion’s prize sets a new benchmark. The winner’s share reached $1 million for the first time in 1989 when Rusty Wallace won the series championship. It reached $2 million in 1999, $3 million in 2000 and climbed above $4 million last year.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-17-2004)
  • Sad News: Jimmy “Tiny” Crabtree who has posted Tinys TV Times at ERaceFans.com for a few years and former freelance racing photographer passed away on Tuesday after having serious health issues. In lieu of cards and flowers the family requests that donations be made in James Crabtree’s name (in the memo part of the check) to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. For donations by check please place Tiny’s name (James Crabtree) in the memo. See story about Tiny at Stoogesand at Friend’s of Tiny (11-17-2004)
  • Speed to carry Nextel Cup announcement: SPEED Channel will carry a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series press conference from Homestead-Miami Speedway LIVE Friday at 9:00am/et. The event is scheduled to include drivers still in the hunt for the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup — Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Mark Martin. SPEED Channel will be the exclusive television outlet for the press conference, which will be simulcast by NASCAR.com and XM Satellite Radio. Mike Joy will host the event. In addition, SPEED Channel will expand Sunday’s post-race coverage, going LIVE to the track immediately following the Ford 400.(SPEED Channel PR)(11-17-2004)
  • Kahne back to run the #2 Truck: Nextel Cup rookie Kasey Kahne will make another start in the #2 Ultra Motorsports Dodge in Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kahne won Saturday’s truck race at Darlington Raceway in his first-ever start in the Truck Series.(Las Vegas Sun)(11-17-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 16, 2004

  • Jimmy Fennig Rallies for 1st Crew Chief of the Race Award: Jimmy Fennig would be the first to admit that the #97 Ford Taurus was not up to scratch in the Southern 500. Driver Kurt Busch struggled with the handling of the car throughout the race. His position fluctuated during the race from 1st to 26th. But it was awesome pit stops and precise planning by Fennig and the #97 team that enabled Busch to stay competitive in the race. This effort did not go unnoticed by the fans as they voted him the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. The majority of fans who logged onto www.WYPALL.com noticed how Fennig was able to rally his crew at strategic moments throughout the race. His pit stops allowed Busch to pick up track position at crucial points during the race. Tony Eury, Sr. remains in first place with ten wins. Chad Knaus is in second place with five wins. Tommy Baldwin and Robbie Loomis are tied for third place with four wins. Robbie Reiser and Matt Borland are in fourth place with two wins. Pat Tryson, Larry Carter, Lee McCall, Donnie Wingo, Phillipe Lopez, Ryan Pemberton, Tony Glover, Jimmy Fennig and Pete Rondeau are tied for fifth place, each with one win. The crew chief with the most weekly wins at the end of the season will be named WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and receive $10,000.00.(S.M.C. 500 PR)(11-16-2004)
  • Overnight Darlington TV Ratings Match Chase’s Best UPDATE Final Ratings Up: NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Mountain Dew Southern 500 drew an overnight rating of 4.6 and a 9 share from Nielsen Media Research, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The overnight rating is up 4.5 percent from the 4.4 the Darlington event drew for NBC on its traditional Labor Day weekend in 2003. The next-to-last race in 2003, the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, was carried on cable’s TNT, so direct comparisons aren’t available. This year’s 4.6 figure from the nation’s largest markets equals the best overnight figures from any of the seven Chase For The Nextel Cup races NBC has broadcast, the 4.6 for the Oct. 3 EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the Oct. 16 UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, which was a Saturday night event.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-16-2004)
    UPDATE: NBC’s coverage of the Mountain Dew Southern 500 Sunday earned a 5.1 national rating/11 share, the best rating ever for this race and a 50 percent increase over the 3.4/8 share for the comparable date on TNT last year (Rockingham, Nov. 9). Through nine races in NASCAR’s inaugural 10-race “Chase for the Nextel Cup,” the average rating on NBC and TNT is a 4.4/10, up 10 percent over last year’s 4.0/9 for the same nine telecast dates. “Brian France had a clear vision of how to increase interest in NASCAR,” said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports. “The truly inspired idea for the ‘Chase for the Nextel Cup’ has had its supporters and critics along the way and we’ve all had to be patient to see the results of the new format. As we approach the final showdown, it is clear that the “Chase” is a resounding success. It has significantly increased the attention paid to and the audience watching NASCAR. It has elevated the exposure of drivers and teams both in the Top 10 and out. And it has produced the kind of drama and excitement Brian envisioned when he molded his plan.”
    The record Mountain Dew Southern 500 rating raises the season-to-date NASCAR on NBC and TNT average rating to a 4.4/10 (18 telecasts), a 5 percent increase over last year’s 4.2/10 (19 tc’s). The Mountain Dew Southern 500 rating peaked at 5:30 p.m. with a 6.7/13 as Jimmie Johnson raced to his fourth checkered flag of the “Chase” to position himself in second-place in the Nextel Cup Championship standings, a mere 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch.(NBC PR)(11-16-2004)
  • No More Lucky Dog? NASCAR is contemplating dropping the so-called “lucky dog” rule implemented last season after racing back to the start-finish line under caution was outlawed. The rule allows the first driver a lap down when a caution comes out to get back onto the lead lap. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said the rule has created confusion among fans and, at times, the competitors.(USA Today)(11-16-2004)
  • Wheeler, Richmond and Hyde honored: Lowe’s Motor Speedway track president H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, driver Tim Richmond and crew chief Harry Hyde were inducted Saturday night into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. Wheeler, known as the P.T. Barnum of racing for his epic promotions at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, accepted the honor, while Richmond and Hyde, the inspiration for the two main characters in the move Days of Thunder, were inducted posthumously.(USA Today)(11-16-2004)
  • NASCAR Enters Strategic Alliance with CASCAR: In a joint effort to increase fan interest and visibility for stock car racing in Canada,NASCAR and CASCAR [www.cascar.com]have entered into a multi-year operational and marketing agreement. “NASCAR is looking forward to working with CASCAR in a growing market for stock car racing,” said George Pyne, Chief Operating Officer of NASCAR. “NASCAR will lend operational and marketing expertise to help grow Canada’s only national stock car series. This partnership further demonstrates NASCAR’s support of grassroots racing throughout North America and our efforts to bring sponsorship and licensing opportunities to businesses at every level of the sport.”
    “In the past 23 years, CASCAR has grown from a regional racing series to a national organization,” said Tony Novotny, President of CASCAR. “NASCAR’s experience and resources will strengthen and support racing in Canada while establishing a foundation for future growth.”
    Earlier this year, NASCAR formed NASCAR Canada, a partnership with TSN that established a Canadian base of operation in Toronto, as well as NASCAR Mexico, based in Mexico City. These new offices support local racing and extend the marketing of the sport to borders north and south of the U.S.
    “NASCAR’s alliance with CASCAR, which complements our partnership with TSN, will help attract new fans to our sport and bring new opportunities to NASCAR sponsors and licensing partners,” Pyne said. “It will be an important vehicle for NASCAR’s continuing support of stock car racing at the grass roots in the Canadian market.”
    NASCAR is the top-rated motorsport on Canadian television, and TSN is the most preferred viewing destination. The Canadian fan base is six million strong with Canadians considered among the most passionate NASCAR fans, according to the 2004 Ipsos-Insight NASCAR Canada Brand Tracker Survey. A significant number of Canadians have attended a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Regular travel to NASCAR events across the United States is common and growing.(NASCAR PR)(11-16-2004)
  • Gaughan will NOT return to the #77 in 2005; Kvapil? UPDATE: Brendan Gaughan was told his contract would not be renewed with Penske-Jasper Racing [#77 Kodak Dodge], and apparently Gene Haas has offered Gaughan, 29, the #0 Chevy seat for 2005. Haas-CNC G.M. Joe Custer added that Richard “Bootie” Barker would remain as crew chief on the #0 and has a three-year contract. Putting Travis Kvapil in the #77 next season is coming with a price. Alex Meshkin wanted compensation for letting Kvapil out of his Bang Racing contract, so Kvapil is expected to run 20 Busch events next season in a Dodge.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-15-2004)
    UPDATE: A decision has not yet been made on whether Brendan Gaughan will return to the #77 Penske-Jasper Racing Dodge for the 2005 season, Penske Racing South President Don Miller said Monday. Miller said Gaughan would drive the Kodak Easy Share Dodge in the NEXTEL Cup season finale at Homestead this weekend. Miller, who noted that Gaughan currently possesses second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, said a decision on Gaughan’s status for next year wouldn’t be made until after the season ended. “And that is after the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Banquet in New York City,” Miller added. The banquet is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 3.(Penske Racing South PR)(11-16-2004)
  • MB2 forms 3rd team, Said to run minimum of 10 races in 2005: MB2 Motorsports and CENTRIX Financial jointly announced a multi-team sponsorship agreement and the formation of a NASCAR Nextel Cup team that will commence in 2005 with Boris Said as the driver. CENTRIX Financial, a Denver-based financial management and services firm, is the Official Auto Finance Company of NASCAR. Founded in 1990 and purchased by current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert E. Sutton in 1998, the company specializes in providing unique products and strategies to the auto finance market. The MB2, CENTRIX Financial multi-year agreement includes the following:
    * Creation of MB/Sutton Motorsports Team — The agreement calls for the creation of MB/Sutton Motorsports, which will own the #36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet that Said will drive in a minimum of 10 races in 2005. The MB/Sutton Motorsports entry with Said as the driver will kick off the 2005 campaign at the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
    * Four-Race Primary Sponsorship — CENTRIX will have a total of four primary sponsorships on the MB2/MBV cars of Joe Nemechek’s #01 Chevrolet and Scott Riggs’ #10 Chevrolet.
    * Major Associate Sponsor — Additionally, CENTRIX will carry a major associate sponsorship package with the No. 01 and No. 10 teams. The U.S. Army is the main sponsor of the #01 car, and Valvoline is the main sponsor of the #10 car.
    The 10 race locations are undecided, but three are set: Daytona 500, Infineon Raceway and Watkings Glen. For Said, the long wait of competing with more regularity on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit is now a reality. “This is the big time – competing against the best drivers in the world,” offered Said, whose first Cup race was at Watkins Glen in 1999. “The new deal for next year is a great opportunity for me, and as I have stated many times – I love being on the edge and I welcome the challenge. Everything about this operation is top-shelf – Bob Sutton and CENTRIX Financial, MB2 and the entire crew back at the shop who has always given me excellent racecars. Right now, I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
    Said, a youthful 42 year-old from Carlsbad, Calif., carved his mark as one of the world’s top road racers, including becoming the first American to win the German 4-hour GT Endurance this year. Though he is known as a hired-gun specialist for NASCAR’s two road races each season, three out of his 12 career NASCAR Nextel Cup races have been on ovals with a fourth oval event scheduled for this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Some of Said’s best performances in NASCAR Nextel Cup races include sixth-place finishes the past two years at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. He also captured the pole at the 2003 Sonoma race and finished 10th in this year’s Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.(MB2 Motorsports PR)(11-16-2004)
  • Last Chance To Vote: Earnhardt Jr. Holds Lead: With just days remaining for nationwide fan voting, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to lead the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award – but fans and fan clubs for other drivers appear to have picked up their support. Fan clubs and web sites for several drivers have urged their fans to vote regularly at www.mostpopulardriver.com, as votes have tightened to determine which drivers will finish in the top 10 of the final tally. “The fans have really jumped on this, wanting to make sure their driver finishes as high as possible,” said Kenny Bruce, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. “Among the top 20 drivers, several are separated by fewer than 5,000 votes, so a good effort in the final week could make a big difference in who finishes where. The right kind of effort could make a big difference in the top five as well.”
    Jeff Gordon is second in the voting, followed by Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart. Rounding out the top 10 are Kasey Kahne, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Labonte. The most coveted NASCAR award behind only the national driving championship itself, the Most Popular Driver is determined by an online vote by fans at www.mostpopulardriver.com. The winner will be announced during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards Banquet weekend, Dec. 3-4 in New York City. A record 3.7 million votes have been cast, and Earnhardt Jr. has led since voting began in February. The driver standings may change this final week, however, as fans hope to move their favorite drivers into the top spot before the balloting ends at 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Monday, Nov. 22, the day after the final race of the season at Homestead, FL. The NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award has been given since 1956. The National Motorsports Press Association administers the award, which is sponsored by Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits.(Williams Company PR), for voting link and past news on the award, see my Awards Page.(11-16-2004)
  • ‘The Chase’ Stays in 2005, no major changes: NASCAR chairman Brian France will keep the new points system in place for next year, satisfied that the closest championship race in history is proof that the 10-race playoff structure works better than expected. Five drivers head into Sunday’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway separated by 82 points, creating a one-race shootout to crown the Nextel Cup champion. “The new points system has been wonderful, it’s created interest and a scenario that was unthinkable under the old system,” France told The Associated Press. “Obviously, we were hoping to create drama all the way down to the last lap of the last race. That was our preference under the old system, and it just wasn’t happening. So we like things the way they are. We always said we wanted to let the full year play out, but the balance we have now, we’re real happy with. We may end up making some slight adjustments next season, but nothing very noticeable.” The system has had opponents since it was announced, and critics are still finding faults. The biggest complaint was the theory that one bad finish would ruin a driver’s title hopes. France said Jimmie Johnson has proved that wrong. After dropping to ninth in the standings with six races left, Johnson has used four victories to pull into second place, 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch. “Everybody thought Jimmie Johnson was out, he had three bad races and everybody said you couldn’t have one,” France said. “Well, nobody thought about the way to climb back into races. That is to win. That is exactly what we wanted.”
    So forget about a points system within a points system.
    He said he is also not going to award extra points to a race winner.
    France is particularly pleased with what the Chase has done for television ratings. Part of the reason he wanted the new system was to create drama that could match up with the NFL and baseball playoffs. Although NBC’s ratings didn’t move at first — the first race was down 8 percent from last year, and the third race was down 2 percent — it’s been a steady climb since. The race in Atlanta three weeks ago was up 21 percent from last year, and NASCAR expects the Miami finale to post similar numbers now that there is a five-driver battle. It couldn’t come at a better time for France, who is just starting to renegotiated NASCAR’s television package. He said he was impressed with the $8 billion extension the NFL worked out last week with CBS and Fox, NASCAR has a $2.8 billion deal with NBC and Fox that they signed in 2001 and expires at the end of the 2006 season.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-16-2004)
  • Did ya know? The first and last Southern 500s were won by drivers from Southern California. Johnny Mantz won it in 1950 and Jimmie Johnson won it in 2004.(Gaston Gazette)(11-16-2004)
  • #40 to sport a Lone Star paint scheme at Homestead: Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon has joined Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in a partnership that will debut on the #40 Coors Light Dodge at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The #40 will be adorned with the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon logo for the November season ending event. The #40 Dodge will be black with red and white accents and will feature the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon logo on the hood and the deck lid as well as the rear quarter panels. The Coors Light logo will appear on the rear bumper and lower rear quarter panel. Lone Star first opened in October 1989 in Winston-Salem, NC. There are currently 268 Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloons, 15 Sullivan’s, six Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak Houses, 20 Texas Land & Cattle restaurants and one Frankie’s Italian Grille.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(11-16-2004)
  • NASCAR looking to get TV renewals underway: In the wake of the NFL’s [go Eagle’s] announcement last week of a new $8 billion, six-year deal with CBS and Fox to televise Sunday afternoon games through 2011, NASCAR is itching to get underway with its own TV rights renewals, the first of which comes up following the 2006 season. NASCAR officials privately believe their telecasts are currently undervalued, particularly the second-half of the racing season on NBC and TNT, in which ratings have grown as a result of the new Chase for the Cup driver points system that was initiated this year. Ratings for the last four races on NBC are up 15 percent cumulatively over last season, and NASCAR is expected to seek a hefty increase from NBC if it wants to renew its telecast rights. The NBC/TNT portion is up for renewal following the 2006 season, while the Fox portion of NASCAR rights runs through the 2008 season, although NASCAR has the option of terminating it after the ’06 season [didn’t know that!].
    If the NFL can secure hefty rights-fee increases when the TV ratings over the course of its current contract declined, NASCAR officials believe they can do as well, or better, since its ratings have grown. Also bolstering NASCAR officials’ hopes for big rights hikes is ESPN’s open desire to televise the races. At a recent upfront event, George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN/ABC Sports, stated that the one property he would like to add to the ABC/ESPN schedule is NASCAR. While NBC has an exclusive window to negotiate, NASCAR could hold out and allow ESPN to bid. This prospect has fueled speculation that NBC may walk away from NASCAR, and concentrate its efforts on a bid for either ABC’s Monday Night Football package or the newly created NFL Thursday/Saturday package. NBC may also bid on a new Major League Baseball telecast-rights package.(Mediaweek.com)(11-16-2004)
  • Yeley to attempt Homestead: J.J. Yeley will attempt to make his third NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start this weekend and race his #11 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. In 2004, Yeley has also made 17 NASCAR Busch Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley completed a test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 9th. Yeley tested with his fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte. Yeley’s #11 team tested Chassis #65 at Homestead. Joe Gibbs Racing will race the #11 FedEx Chevrolet full-time in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series action next year with driver Jason Leffler. The entire #18 Vigoro/Home Depot Busch Series crew will move over with Yeley to the NEXTEL Cup garage, including crew chief Doug Hewitt. Hewitt will call the shots for Yeley’s effort, and Yeley’s Busch Series crew will pit the car for Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.(Rockwell Sys/JGR PR)(11-16-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 15, 2004

  • Closest Points Race: The top-five drivers in the title hunt are separated by 82 points, and that sets up the closest championship finale since 1992 when six drivers were separated by 113 points. Davey Allison was then the leader, by 30 points over Alan Kulwicki, 40 points over Bill Elliott, 97 points over Harry Gant, 98 points over Kyle Petty and 113 points over Mark Martin. Kulwicki won by 10 points over Elliott.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-15-2004)
  • CHEVY Notes UPDATED:
    To date, Chevrolet has collected 32 victories at Darlington Raceway – more than any other manufacturer in the Modern Era (1972 – present).
    At Sunday’s Mountain Dew Southern 500, Chevrolet will be going for its seventh straight win in as many races. Chevy drivers have won the past six races (since Talladega, Oct. 3). #48-Johnson won, 8 straight.
    At Darlington, Chevrolet got it’s 23rd victory of the season, which matches its best Modern Era record of 22 wins set in 1980.
    Chevrolet has led more laps than any other manufacturer this season with 5334 of 10,484 possible.
    Chevrolet is the most successful manufacturer of all time in NASCAR Cup racing with a total of 556 victories since 1949 (Ford currently has 553).(see the list on my Manufacturers Champiobship page)
    Jimmie Johnson’s victory in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Oct. 16 clinched the 2004 Manufacturers’ Championship for Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The title is the 28th for Chevrolet since 1952 and the 24th in the Modern Era (since 1972). Ford ranks second with 15 titles.(GM PR)(11-13/15-2004)
  • It’s official – Happy Hour is history: NASCAR will implement a post-qualifying impound procedure for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at the majority of the 36 championship-point races in 2005, NASCAR officials announced today. More than half of the events on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule will utilize the new procedure that will provide cost-containment benefits to the teams. Following qualifying and the post-qualifying inspection process, the starting field of 43 cars will be impounded by NASCAR officials until race day. During this period, the teams will not be permitted to work on their cars unless for special circumstances and authorized by NASCAR officials.
    “We are still in the process of getting more tracks to commit to this procedure,” NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby said. “We appreciate the cooperation of our track operators to assist us in delivering cost-saving measures to the team owners.”
    Some of the benefits of the new procedure will include reducing the amount of labor by crew members on the cars throughout a race weekend; reducing practice tire consumption and, most importantly, eliminating special qualifying parts, components, oils and set-ups. “Ultimately, all the teams will arrive at the track with a focus on one goal,” Darby said. “That goal will be to have the best possible race set-up, and hopefully that will enhance the overall competitive element throughout the field.”
    The new procedure will alter the traditional race weekend schedule. The two 45-minute final practices the day following qualifying – commonly known as “Happy Hour” – will be eliminated.
    In many cases for a traditional race weekend (Friday-Sunday), two hours of practice would take place Friday, Bud Pole qualifying on Saturday and then the cars would be impounded immediately following post-qualifying inspection. On doubleheader weekends, Bud Pole qualifying could be followed by a NASCAR Busch Series event, creating a strong single-day package for race fans.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2004)
  • West Coast Testing at California/Las Vegas UPDATE: NASCAR plans to allow Nextel Cup teams two days of preseason testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway while being charged for only one test. Las Vegas will be open from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. California Speedway will be available Feb. 1-3.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-15-2004)
    UPDATE: In a cost-saving measure with competition benefits, NASCAR also will give its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams the opportunity to conduct a combination preseason test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams will be permitted to test a maximum of two days at each track. Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be available to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, and California Speedway will be available Feb. 1-3, eliminating the expense of making two separate trips for tests at those respective tracks. “This benefit to the teams would not have been possible without the cooperation and willingness of both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway,” Darby said. “We expect the teams to take full advantage of the opportunity.” The tests at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway will serve as the western swing of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, which kicks off the 2005 season with sessions Jan. 11-13 and 18-20 at Daytona International Speedway.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2004)
  • Top 10 for Mikey in 2005 to keep ride: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said yesterday Michael Waltrip will need to finish in the top 10 next season to keep his spot in the #15 Chevrolet. DEI has one-year contracts with the 40-year-old and his sponsor, NAPA. “Michael would love to retire at DEI, and [owner] Teresa [Earnhardt] would love to have him retire here,” Gilmore said. “But we have to get to another level. We need to be in the Chase for NAPA and DEI.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-15-2004)
  • Testing at Kentucky this week:
    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing At Kentucky Speedway:
    November 15th, #8-DEI [cancelled]; #9-Kasey Kahne, #30-Jeff Burton
    November 17th, #32-Bobby Hamilton, Jr.
    Fans can view testing from a designated area outside the speedway Fan Center in Turn 3.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(11-15-2004)
  • Twenty-two 2 day shows in 2005? UPDATE: on Speed Channel’s NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner reported that during the crew chief meeting, NASCAR floated out an idea that there could be 22 two-day shows in 2005 for the Nextel Cup Series. The cars would go thru tech on Friday, but no track activities, the drivers would practice and qualify on Saturday, after qualifying the cars would be impounded and there would be NO Happy Hour [final] practice.(11-14-2004)
    UPDATE: A new post-qualifying procedure designed to save money and significantly alter racing weekends will begin next season in NASCAR. Car owner Jack Roush said he and his crew chiefs were briefed on the measures Saturday at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR is expected to announce the plans this week [Friday on Speed 9:00am/et?]. Under the plan, qualifying would be moved from Friday to Saturday, then the cars would be impounded. They would then line up Sundays with no tire, gear or shock absorber changes. NASCAR chairman Brian France said the plans are still under consideration. If implemented, France said “time is the cost they’ll be helping teams save.” The traditional pair of 45-minute Saturday practice sessions, called “Happy Hour,” will be eliminated. Nextel Cup teams will run two hours of practice laps on Fridays. After impoundment, any work on cars would have to be approved by NASCAR and only for special circumstances. One benefit is that overworked Nextel Cup teams would get some rest on Saturday afternoons. Another would come in the wallets of race teams, saving money on practice tires and special parts.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-15-2004)
  • Slugger being courted: Richard “Slugger” Labbe, the crew chief who took #15-Michael Waltrip to two Daytona 500 wins during the past four years, is being wooed by car owner Joe Gibbs to join the Tony Stewart-Bobby Labonte-Jason Leffler operation next season, according to team sources. Labbe is also being courted by other car owners too, possibly including Roger Penske. Labbe, who quit Waltrip’s Cup team last month “because the team wasn’t making progress,” has been floating among the various Dale Earnhardt Inc. teams since, waiting to see what options that team owner Teresa Earnhardt and manager Richie Gilmore might have for him for 2005. “I want to stay at DEI, and I’m just waiting to see what happens,” Labbe said. “It’s up to Richie. I told him I’m going on vacation the end of the month for a couple of weeks and I’d like to know something before then.”(Winston Salem Journal)(11-15-2004)
  • Lopez to Gibbs? BDR? RCR? UPDATE 3: Philippe Lopez, a crew chief who has been working in research and development at Joe Gibbs Racing [JGR] since August, was missing in action at Phoenix. Several possible scenarios were presented by garage sources: Lopez was offered the crew chief job on Gibbs’ #18 (Bobby Labonte) but turned it down, Lopez has discussed the #22 (Scott Wimmer) crew chief job with Bill Davis Racing, and Lopez could be reunited with Dave Blaney at Richard Childress Racing. “It’s a possibility,” Richard Childress says.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that Lopez has left JGR, no word on any more info.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: hearing Lopez is the leading canidate to go to the #22 team, not sure what current crew chief, Frank Stoddard would do, another position with BDR or go to another team.(11-10-2004)
    AND: also hearing that Lopez will be the crew chief for Dave Blaney at RCR in the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy.(that is one diecast I will buy)(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Philippe Lopez is expected to start work at Richard Childress Racing this week. An announcement that Lopez will be crew chief for the #30 Chevrolet in 2005, reuniting him with Dave Blaney, could come at Homestead. The #30 crew will rejoin RCR crew chief Kevin Hamlin next season on Jeff Burton’s #31 car, so Lopez can pick much of his staff.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-15-2004)

News and Rumors from November 14, 2004

  • Johnson wins the FINAL Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Southern 500, his first win of the famed race, the 31st driver to win the Southern 500 in 55 races. It is Johnson’s 8th win of the season and 14th of his career. Johnson has swept both races a three tracks in 2004: Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Pocono and Darlington. Johnson led 124 laps, only #24-Jeff Gordon, who finished 3rd, had more with 155. #6-Mark Martin finished 2nd, the rest of the top five were #42-Jamie McMurray [who locks up 11th position and a milion bucks] and #9-Kasey Kahne finished 5th in a backup car. Both McMurray and Kahne didn’t change tires during the 8th caution pit stops. #0-Mike Bliss, in his first race with the #0 NetZero team finished 10th. #97-Kurt Busch finished 6th and holds on to the points lead, but it is down to 18, in fact the top five in points are only separated by 82 points. Only the top five in the chase can win the championship. The only way #20-Stewart, who is 6th in points, can win, is if the top five don’t race at Homestead and he wins the race….not bloody likely.
    For my race rundown, laps led, narrative, lucky dogs, etc at my The Final Southern 500 Race Info/Rundown Page
    Race results at:
    ThatsRacin.com
    MotorsportsOne
    NASCAR.com.(11-14-2004)
  • Flagman waves last checkered flag at Darlington: NASCAR Nextel Cup flagman, Jimmy Howell, waved the flags for the last time at Darlington Raceway’s Final Southern 500. Howell will be taking a job with Bass Pro Shop’s Motorsports department. Bass Pro Shops will be Martin Truex Jr.’s full-time Busch car and limited Cup schedule in 2005 and full-time in Nexte Cup in 2006.(MRN Radio race coverage)
    UPDATE: Jimmy Howell, who has served as one of the two Nextel Cup Series flagmen for the past seven years, made Sunday’s final Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway his final race in that as well. Howell will attend next weekend’s season finale at Homestead, Fla., but will not be on teh flag stand. He has accepted a job as director of motorsports for Bass Pro Shops, which will sponsor the 2004 Busch Series champion, Martin Truex Jr., next season. During Sunday’s race, the Motor Racing Network radio crew announced Howell’s retirement from the position and fans responded with a standing ovation. “It’s been a lot of races and a lot of years, a lot of great memories. NASCAR has been great to me and I have nothing but admiration for them,” he said. “I’ll always be a NASCAR guy,” said Howell, who hails from Winston-Salem, NC. “It’s a real good opportunity in my life that at this point I didn’t feel like I could pass up. I’ll still be involved in NASCAR in many ways. I’ll have the best of both worlds.”(ThatsRacin.com)(11-14-2004)
  • New Qualifying format in 2005? UPDATE 2: Bob Dilner reported on Speed Channel that qualifying in 2005 for the Cup Series could have a different look in 2005, with the top 35 teams [owners points? drivers points?] be assured to make the top 35 no matter how fast or slow they are. From 36 on back could not get the pole and would be set by speed. No word on if provisionals would still be used. This is supposedly one of a few scenarios NASCAR is thinking about regarding qualifying in 2005.(10-30-2004)
    UPDATE: New qualifying procedures will likely be in place at more than half the races on the 2005 Nextel Cup schedule, including a guarantee that the top 35 teams in the car owners’ points would get a starting spot in each week’s event. Nextel Cup Series director John Darby confirmed Friday that Nextel Cup is heading toward a process used several times this year in the Busch Series, where cars are impounded by NASCAR after qualifying and would then start the race with the same set-up they had for the time trials. “That would allow the teams to have one focus per weekend,” Darby said. “They would leave the shop in race set-up, then unload at the track and qualify and race with the car in race trim.” Currently, Nextel Cup teams practice and then make two-lap qualifying runs on Fridays in a typical race weekend. They then change their cars dramatically before a running a pair of Saturday morning practices the way their cars will be for Sunday’s race. Darby said the “ideal” schedule for 2005 would be Friday afternoon practices with Cup qualifying at midday Saturday preceding a Busch or Truck series support race. Cup cars would be impounded after qualifying and teams would be able to make only slight adjustments – air pressure in tires, for instance – before the green flag on Sunday.
    There other major change in qualifying rules would be in effect at all tracks, however. The top 35 cars in owner points would be guaranteed a starting spot to protect teams running full schedules from being bumped by part-time teams who show up in qualifying mode to make a race with no regard of how that car would do in the race. There were 50 cars entered in this weekend’s Checker 500 at Phoenix. Under the new set-up, the top 35 in points would be guaranteed spots. The other 15 cars would compete for the remaining eight slots [a heat race would be cool]. The field would still be lined up based on speed. But if the eighth fastest car not in the 35 in points had the 29th best speed, positions 30 through 43 would be filled by cars in the top 35, ranked by speed, even if the ninth best car among those not in the top 35 went faster.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-6-2004)
    UPDATE 2: on Speed Channel’s NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner said one way qualifying would work, is the top 35 would qualifying for the top 35 spots, any team/driver out of the top 35 in owners points making an attempt could start no better then 36th, not even the pole.[I don’t offer opinion’s much, but I don’t like that scenario, top 35 in for sure is great, after the top 35, then the 8 out of the top 35 start here they qualified](11-14-2004)
  • More on the ‘slower’ pit stop plans UPDATE Busch/Trucks: There are more twists now in NASCAR’s proposed rules to slow pit stops and take good pit crews out of the equation: NASCAR officials are reportedly worried that super-fast pit crews might become organized, bringing sports agents into the negotiating process. A top over-the-wall crewman can make as much as $125,000 a year, considering his base in-shop salary and pit-crew bonuses. If all seven crewmen are in that category, a team’s line-item budget would be $875,000.
    Team owners and crew chiefs are also facing another worrisome aspect – dissent within the teams about the disparity in salaries. Some regular crewmen say that some pit crewmen are given full-time jobs in the shop but that those Sunday pit-road specialists take up space on the weekday shop roster that could be filled by more talented people.
    The slower fuel-flow gas cans will likely be used on the Busch and Truck tours in 2005 and then on the Nextel Cup tour in 2006, though the Cup tour could see the new rules too sooner. By slowing the flow of fuel during a pit stop, NASCAR officials figure teams would not need lightning-fast pit crews, and the cost of such top-notch pit crews has gone up considerably.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-13-2004)
    UPDATE: NASCAR officials appear to be ready to implement a suggestion from Busch Series crew chief Ricky Pearson, who wants to restrict the flow of gasoline during pit stops. That would lengthen most pit stops and take away the advantage of teams that have full-time tire changers who can perform their tasks much quicker than the part-timers who work for many Busch teams. The changes would start in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series [in 2005], then possibly be expanded to Cup [in 2006].(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-14-2004)
  • Wimmer set for 2005: on Speed Channel’s Speed News, Scott Wimmer said he is set for 2005 and will be back in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge in 2005.(11-14-2004)
  • The Toyota Showdown: Eric Holmes and Mike Johnson scored the biggest wins of their respective careers on Saturday night. The Southwest Series showed that they are the best of the best when it comes to the Elite Divisions in the NASCAR world with Eric Holmes taking the top spot, followed to the line by Rip Michels and Burney Lamar. MIke Johnson survived a wild Grand National race to win and was followed by Matt Kobyluck and Joey McCarthy.(see 51 Sports for more)(11-14-2004)
  • Darlington News and Notes:

    —- Jimmie Johnson won the 55th Mountain Dew Southern 500, scoring his 14th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 110th career start. His last victory came at Atlanta October 31, 2004, two races ago.
    —- It was Johnson’s eighth victory in 2004, more than any other driver. He moved into a tie with Dick Hutcherson and LeeRoy Yarbrough for 42nd on NASCAR’s all-time win list.
    —- Johnson scored his second victory and fifth top-10 finish in six races at Darlington Raceway.
    —- This is the third time in 2004 (Pocono, Charlotte and Darlington) and fifth time in his career Johnson has swept both races at a track in a single season. In 2002, Johnson won both races at Dover and in 2003 he won both at New Hampshire.
    —- Thirteen of Johnson’s 14 victories have occurred on superspeedways.
    —- Johnson climbed from fourth to second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. It marked his fourth victory in nine races of the Chase.
    —- Johnson led seven times for 124 laps, including the final nine, in Mountain Dew Southern 500.
    —- Jeff Gordon led 155 laps, leading the most laps for the seventh time in 2004.
    —- This was the 22nd victory for Chevrolet. Ford has nine and Dodge has four. Chevrolet clinched the 2004 Manufacturers’Championship at Charlotte, the 28th time in NASCAR history. Notebook Items
    —- The top-five drivers are separated by just 82 points. This is the closest points race under the current point system since six drivers were separated by 113 points in 1992 with one race remaining. That season Davey Allison had a 30-point lead over second-place Alan Kulwicki. Bill Elliott was 40, Harry Gant was 97, Kyle Petty 98 and Mark Martin was 113.
    —- Jimmie Johnson ranked ninth in the point standings with six races remaining (after Race No. 30 at Kansas). Johnson was 247 points behind and is now second, 18 points behind, with one race remaining.
    —- The greatest come-back in NASCAR history occurred in 1992 when Alan Kulwicki came from fourth in points (278 behind) with six races remaining to win the 1992 championship by 10 points over Bill Elliott.
    —- With one race remaining in the Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, 404 points separate first to 10th. The Chase began with a 45-point separation between first and 10th at Race No. 27 at New Hampshire. The biggest point margin is 139 points between seventh-place Ryan Newman and eighth-place Matt Kenseth.
    —- Five drivers in the top-10 in points changed positions at Darlington Raceway.
    —- Eight of the nine Chase races have been won by drivers competing in The Chase: New Hampshire (Kurt Busch), Dover (Ryan Newman), Talladega (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), Charlotte (Jimmie Johnson), Martinsville (Jimmie Johnson), Atlanta (Jimmie Johnson), Phoenix (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and Darlington (Jimmie Johnson). Kansas (Joe Nemechek) is the only race that was won by a non-Chase driver.
    —- Kurt Busch is the only driver to score a top-10 finish in eight of the nine races in the Chase.
    —- Entering Darlington, seven drivers: Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were in the 156-point window which would allow any of the seven to leave Phoenix with the point lead. Leaving Darlington, with one race remaining, five drivers are in the point window in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and are all within 82 points of the point leader and could possibly overtake Kurt Busch at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. Tony Stewart (17th) and Ryan Newman (34th) fell out the group as a result of their finishes.
    —- Mark Martin (second) scored his 15th top-10 finish of the season. It was second 23rd top-10 finish in 38 races at Darlington Raceway.
    —- Jeff Gordon (third) scored his 24th top-10 finish in 2004, the most of all drivers. It was his 15th top-10 finish in 24 races at Darlington. Gordon is just three points behind second-place Jimmie Johnson and 21 behind point leader Kurt Busch.
    —- Jamie McMurray (fourth) scored his 22nd top-10 finish of the season. It was his second top-10 finish in four races at Darlington Raceway.
    —- Kasey Kahne (fifth) scored his 14th top-10 finish of the season. It was his first top-10 finish in two races at Darlington Raceway.
    —- Carl Edwards (seventh) scored his fifth top-10 finish in his 12th career start.
    —- Matt Kenseth (20th) has ranked in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 for 70 straight races.. Kenseth moved into a tie with Jimmie Johnson for ninth on NASCAR’s Top 10 list for consecutive races in the top-10 under the current point system (since 1975).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-14-2004)

  • Stock Car Fans – Rumblings – Darlington: We’re gonna have to start calling him “Mr. Broom” or the “Sweeping Superman”….we’ll need to work on it. Jimmie Johnson did it again today, winning the final 500-miler at Darlington Raceway for his fourth win in the last five events. He’s graced Victory Lane 8 times this season, and six of those wins were at three Speedways (a tri-sweeper). This was win #14 for Johnson in his career (he’s tied with Dick Hutcherson & LeeRoy Yarbrough for 42nd on the all-time win list), and #130 for Hendrick Motorsports. This is the 13th win this season for HMS….they can tie their best year ever next week as they won 14 in 1998. The win was worth $269,675 from the over $5.2M in posted awards.
    Mark Martin was the bridesmaid again tonight…..he was a little less than a second behind at the finish.
    Robby Gordon (15th) had his best finish since he was 9th at Talladega last month.
    Randy LaJoie (36th) had his best finish since he was 31st at Richmond in May of 1998! (only 6 races)
    STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10’s in a row.
    Kurt Busch has 8 Top-10’s in the last 9 races.
    Jamie McMurray has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
    Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
    This Week’s Elevator….UP: The Operator of the Week is a lonely Mike Bliss (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Ryan Newman (-27), followed by Dale Jarrett (-25). A slow “shaft” this week, but that Mike Bliss is sure giving a good audition in limited appearances this season.
    The “Chase” has got to be everything the boyz in Daytona Beach wanted (whether we wanted it or not) since we’ve got three drivers separated by 21 markers and the Top-5 going into next week’s race have a chance at the Championship. Engine tuning discussions should be very interesting this week.
    In “Classic” points, Jeff Gordon would have a 52 point lead over his teammate Jimmie Johnson. Still could have found a few columns in that, dontcha think? Bobby Labonte (15th to 12th) made the best move forward, while Dale Jarrett (11th to 14th) and the MIA Ward Burton (29th to 32nd) fell three spots each.(more at Stock Car Fans Newsletter Site)(11-14-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 13, 2004

  • ESPN Classic’s Dale Earnhardt Tribute: ESPN Classic celebrates the career of NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt, as they build up to the debut of the EOE movie “3”, beginning on Wednesday, December 1, at 9:00pm/et. Every night for six nights ESPN Classic will air a fantastic Dale Earnhardt race at 9:00pm/et. Then Thursday, December 9, to Saturday, December 11, ESPN Classic will televise the “3 Days of Dale” which will feature around-the-clock airings of his greatest NASCAR and IROC races, as well as shows/documentaries that pay tribute to the career of the immortal “Intimidator”.(ESPN.com)(11-13-2004)
  • A Possible Twist to the Top 35 Qualifying Rules: The plan to guarantee the top 35 drivers in car owner points starting spots in each race next year includes one provisional spot – for former Cup series champions. With former champions Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott running part-time schedules next year, that could come into play if they’re outside the top 35 and don’t earn one of the remaining spots on speed.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-13-2004)
  • Sad News: Jessica Renee Hunley, 16, daughter or Roush Racing’s Chris Hunley, was killed in a single car accident Thursday night. She went to North Davidson High School in Welcome, NC where she was a junior and a softball player. Family and friend visitation will be Sunday the 14th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Davidson Funeral home located at: 858 Hickory Tree Rd. Winston-Salem, NC 27127. There will be a private Funeral service held on Monday. Memorials may be directed to the North Davidson High School softball team, 7227 Old Highway 52, Lexington, N.C. 27295(11-13-2004)
  • BANG Racing close to announcement? Ward and Dodge? UPDATE 2 NO DEAL: hearing that BANG Racing is close to signing their Cup and Busch deal for next year with Ward as the driver for the NetZero Dodge in Cup and Travis Kvapil in the Busch car [Dodge?] with Line-X as the sponsor. The team expects to announce a new General Manager soon also.(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that NetZero will STAY with the #0 Haas CNC Chevy anf NOT go to BANG.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: also been told that BANG Racing will now NOT have a full-time Cup team in 2005 as the NetZero/Ward Burton deal fell thru. NetZero didn’t want to be on a team that was out of the top 35 owners points cushion, the likely new qualifying formet for 2005.(11-13-2004)
  • GM head of racing to Hendrick? General Motors’ Doug Duchardt, head of the company’s world-wide racing operations, is apparently being wooed by car owner Rick Hendrick to move to North Carolina to take a key position at Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick’s racing operations were hard-hit by the plane crash three weeks ago that killed 10. Among those killed were John Hendrick, the company’s president; Randy Dorton, the legendary engine builder and head of the company’s engine department; and general manager Jeff Turner.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-13-2004)
  • Mark Martin in a Reality Show? Garage sources told TFR today that Mark Martin is in final negotiations to participate in the racing reality show, NASCAR 360 [FX]. The show, which will come during the final year of his fulltime commitment to securing a Cup championship, will follow Martin around as he works his daily routine. The details are still very fluid at this stage of the discussions, but Martin apparently is rev’ed up about the proposition to share with his fans some of the behind the scenes stuff he’ll be doing as he winds down what many call a driver’s driver career. (Team Ford Racing)(11-13-2004)
  • Ward out? UPDATE 4 Bliss in; 2005? hearing that Ward Burton and the #0 NetZero team have parted ways? Supposedly Mike Bliss will drive the #0 Chevy at Darlington.(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: Mike Bliss has replaced Ward Burton in Haas CNC Racing’s #0 NetZero Chevrolet for this weekend’s Nextel Cup Series Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Owner Gene Haas released Burton after last weekend’s Checker Auto Parts 500, a Burton spokesman said, ending negotiations with Haas for Burton to continuing as the team’s driver. Bliss has 33 career Cup starts and two top-10s, including a career-best fourth at Richmond in September 2004.(NASCAR.com)(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Haas CNC Racing announced today that NASCAR veteran Mike Bliss will take over driving duties of the #0 NetZero Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series effective immediately. Bliss will replace Ward Burton and drive the remaining two events on the 2004 schedule for the team.(Haas CNC Racing PR)(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Claire B. Lang on her “Dialed In” show on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio had a compelling chat with Ward Burton, who after parting ways with NetZero has decided also not to race the #47 Acxiom Chevrolet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this weekend. He says he’s taking some time to figure out his next step. See the full interview at NASCAR.com and see Burton’s comments at wardburton.com.(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE 4: Sources close to the team indicate that Haas is leaning toward hiring Brendan Gaughan, if he’s released by Penske-Jasper, or Mike Bliss. Tony Raines, who drove the team’s Busch Series car at Phoenix, and Mike Wallace are the other drivers under consideration for the ride. A source indicated that if [Travis] Kvapil replaces Gaughan at Penske-Jasper, he’d still run a majority of the Busch races with Bang Racing with other drivers rounding out the schedule.(NASCAR Scene Print vs. BGNRacing.com)(11-13-2004)
  • VOTE NOW for the 4th Quarter 2004 Speed Channel Driver of the Year: Although some driver’s titles are decided others are still up for grabs as Speed Channel’s Driver of the Year’s fan vote is about to take place for the fourth quarter, 2004. The list of nominated drivers includes Sebastien Bourdais(Champ Car), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (NASCAR), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Tony Kanaan (Indy Racing League), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Tony Schumacher (NHRA) and Martin Truex, Jr. (NASCAR). In it’s 38th year, the Speed Channel DRIVER OF THE YEAR’s Award for this quarter will be determined by an independent vote of the 18-member panel of blue ribbon auto racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fans’ voting at www.speedtv.com. The voting process is unique in the world of auto racing and provides fans a method of sharing their opinion in awarding the honor. At the end of the year a special, separate, vote will be held for the SPEED Channel 2004 DRIVER OF THE YEAR. The panelists will have their quarterly vote on November 24th and the fan vote will close soon thereafter. See more and vote at speedtv.com.(11-13-2004)
  • Can Busch clinch today at Darlington? #97-Kurt Busch is the only drive who can clinch the Nextel Cup today in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. How?
    one scenario: #97-Busch wins and leads the most laps [190 points], the following drivers would have to finish at or worse then the following positions:
    #24-Gordon, 41st
    #8-Earnhardt Jr. 39th
    #48-Johnson, 39th
    #6-Martin, 21st
    If Busch leads the 2nd place driver by 156 or more after Darlington, all he needs to do is start the car at Homestead to clinch, to do the the following drivers would have to finish in the following positions:
    #24-Gordon, 30th
    #8-Earnhardt Jr. 28th
    #48-Johnson, 27th
    #6-Martin, 10th.(11-13-2004)
  • Dale Earnhardt Theme Park? Is a Dale Earnhardt Theme Park in the planning stages for Iredell County, near the DEI shops? Something big like that could be in the works, apparently, with the possibility that the city of Mooresville could annex DEI country. A new interchange off I-77 could help.(Winston Salem Journal). Jayski Note: there are plans for an interchage off I-77 at Langtree, near me, scheduled to open in 2006. DEI is almost straight East of Langtree, but via back roads. There has been talk of a road at the east end of Langtree at 115 to cut accross to 3. Have seen nothing about this in any local papers.(11-13-2004)
  • Diageo Announces Relationship with NASCAR UPDATE: Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, today announced one of the company’s spirits brands would participate in NASCAR for the first time ever beginning with the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Earlier today, NASCAR announced spirits companies would be allowed to participate as team sponsors and that Diageo would lead the spirits category’s entry into the sport. Diageo, which has a history in NASCAR with its flavored malt beverage brand Smirnoff ICE, will utilize its new sponsorship in NASCAR to continue to educate consumers about the importance of responsible drinking. Diageo’s sponsorship, which will feature the Crown Royal brand, will be built around the company’s existing relationship with Roush Racing, one of the premier racing teams in all of motorsports with over 280 wins and 30 championships. In 2003, Smirnoff ICE partnered with Roush Racing as an associate sponsor of the #17 car, driven by Matt Kenseth, which won the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. That associate level sponsorship has continued throughout the 2004 season. In addition to the Smirnoff ICE sponsorship in NASCAR, Diageo has a presence in motorsports with the Crown Royal International Race of Champions Series. The Crown Royal IROC Series, which is an invitational series matching 12 championship drivers from different disciplines of auto racing, was captured in 2004 by Matt Kenseth. For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com.(Alan Taylor Communications PR), doesn’t say what team they will be with, but #97-Busch gets the Smirnoff Ice sponsorship.(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE to the #99?: Shortly after NASCAR president Mike Helton announced that the sanctioning body was lifting its ban on sponsorships by hard-liquor distillers, Diageo announced that it would sponsor a Roush Racing car next season featuring its Crown Royal brand. The sponsorship likely will go to Roush’s #99 Ford, which is driven by Carl Edwards. Crown Royal also sponsors the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series.(Las Vegas Sun)(11-13-2004)
  • Spencer looking at some Cup rides…and an update on legal issues: Jimmy Spencer is back at the track, though in a Busch ride, not a Nextel Cup ride, and looking for a Cup ride for next season. Hanging over him is the legal situation stemming from his arrest three weeks ago for resisting a police officer who had come to arrest his son for painting some cars in the neighborhood. Spencer declined to say much about his legal situation except to say it was on hold for the moment: “When the time comes, I can talk about it, but not right now.” Others in a position to know offered more details of what happened that Sunday night in question, Oct. 25: According to these people, two officers came to the Spencer residence. One remained in the police car while the other came to the house. Spencer objected to the officers’ presence when they said they didn’t have an arrest warrant and he told them they had nothing more to say to them. Spencer then went to talk to the officer in the car, and the first officer objected and pushed Spencer away from the car and threatened to arrest him. When Spencer objected to that, the officer arrested him. “I’ve got some Cup possibilities for next year, some guys who want to run a limited schedule,” Spencer said of his 2005 racing options. “Hopefully we can land something.”(Winston Salem Journal)(11-13-2004)
  • Someone shot Herman’s Hauler: The Busch Series hauler of Kenny Wallace turned into interstate target practice somewhere on the 34-hour trip from Phoenix to High Point, N.C. “My crew chief called Monday and said ‘Who’d you make mad? We’ve got three bullet holes in our [hauler],'” Wallace said. Scott Weston, the truck driver for the Bill Davis Racing team, discovered the holes on the hauler’s left side upon returning. Weston and his co-driver never heard the shots, which didn’t harm any of the team’s equipment. “It just shows there’s some people that don’t have anything to do in life,” Wallace said.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-13-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 12, 2004

  • Get Well: Teddy Brown, crew chief for GIC-Mixon Busch #24 and Nextel Cup #93 was hospitalized after Pheonix and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and is still recovering in Lake Norman Hospital. Car Chief and long time friend Wayne Carroll will call the shots this weekend.(11-12-2004)
  • Dale Jr. wrecks in practice..goes to backup: from a GM PR
    TONY EURY JR., CAR CHIEF, #8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
    – Note – Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall during practice and goes to a back-up car. The crew put the motor from the primary car into the back-up: “We run a support bar on the right side so when they ride the wall during the race, it supports it. It knocked the cage out pretty good. It kind of kinked the main roll cage. Instead of taking a risk of something happening during the race, we decided to change. It really doesn’t cost us anything. We don’t have to go to the back for no reason. Why take the chance? We got the other car out and we’ve got another one on the way.”
    (IS JUNIOR COMFORTABLE WITH THE BACK-UP CAR?) “That car actually ran about two-tenths faster than the other one. We haven’t run the car all year. It’s been a back-up all year. Everything we’ve got is good, so we’re looking forward to it.”(GM PR)(11-12-2004)
  • Changes at the #22? Stoddard out? UPDATE: hearing that crew chief Frank Stoddard and the #22 Bill Davis Racing team have parted ways??(11-12-2004)
    UPDATE: Bill Davis Racing named Derrick Finley on Friday as interim chief for rookie Scott Wimmer’s #22 Caterpillar Dodge, replacing Frank Stoddard. Finley will serve out the remaining two Cup races. Team owner Bill Davis said he has started a search for a permanent replacement. “Things weren’t going like we wanted them to, obviously. We weren’t running as well as we wanted to and the chemistry just didn’t seem to be there,” Davis said. “It’s a really, really tough decision. Frankie is a great guy and a smart guy and certainly knows how to win these races than Bill Davis Racing’s had but we weren’t making it work. We just felt we needed to try a different direction.”(ThatsRacin.com)(11-12-2004)
  • Kerry Earnhardt coast-to-coast UPDATE just in the Showdown: Kerry Earnhardt has received an invitation to race in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Saturday at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Earnhardt, who drove in eight races and finished 17th in the Grand National Division West Series while also participating in Nextel Cup and Busch series races this season, was extended the invite after two of the top 15 drivers were unable to attend. At the Showdown, the top 10 Southwest Series drivers will face off against the top 10 drivers from the other three series (Midwest, Northwest and Southeast) that comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division. The Toyota All-Star Showdown begins Thursday with a full day of practice. On Friday night, each division (AutoZone Elite Division and NASCAR Grand National Division) will hold twin 50-lap preliminary races. The results of those races will establish the starting lineups for Saturday’s feature races, with the 50-lap race winners starting up front in the main events. On Saturday, the AutoZone Elite Division all-star field will race for 125 laps, followed by the NASCAR Grand National Division all-stars (from the Busch North Series and West Series) in a 150-lap showdown. Friday’s and Saturday’s events will be telecast live on SPEED Channel [listed on my TV Listings page or right hand side of this page].(NASCAR.com), Earnhardt is also scheduled to run the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday.(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE: Earnhardt will not run in the Southern 500, will concentrate on the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.(11-12-2004)
  • Tom Hammonds Chevrolet Joins SCORE Motorsports at Darlington: Tom Hammonds Chevrolet in Darlington, S.C. has joined SCORE Motorsports and driver Hermie Sadler as an associate sponsor for the BI-LO 200 NASCAR Busch Series race and the Mountain Dew Southern 500 NEXTEL Cup Series race this weekend in Darlington, S.C. Tom Hammonds, a three-time All-ACC selection for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, played 12 years in the NBA before retiring in 2001. He has been owner/operator of Tom Hammonds Chevrolet since March 2004 and has a love for racing, being an accomplished drag racer himself. Hammonds has two connections to SCORE Motorsports. In addition to being friends with Sadler, Hammonds played five seasons with SCORE Motorsports co-owner Bryant Stith while they were with the Denver Nuggets. The pair were both honored last March at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. for their accomplishments in the ACC. For more information on Tom Hammonds Chevrolet, visit www.tomhammondschevrolet.com.(Score Motorsports PR)(11-12-2004)
  • Stock Car Fans – Ramblings – Darlington: We found out today the only way to knock Ryan Newman off the Bud Pole is to have Mother Nature take your side, so (after today’s rainout) Kurt Busch will lead ’em to the green on Sunday at Darlington Raceway. BTW, Ryan was over 2/10th’s quicker than the field in practice. I just can’t bring myself to call this the Southern 500….all these stories I’m reading where they say this is the last Southern 500, sorry that was last September. This _is_ the last 500 tho. Next year we’ll come here on Mothers Day weekend, but on the bright side we will have something new. Hard liquor sponsors (or as NASCAR likes to call it “distilled spirits”). Let’s see, we’ve downgraded Momma and brought in booze….is that what they meant when they said the “timing was right”?
    For Kurt Busch, this is his best starting spot since he had the pole at Homestead in November of 2002.
    Jeff Gordon (2nd) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Loudon in September.
    Mark Martin (5th) has his best starting spot since he lined up on the outside pole at Richmond in September.
    Kirk Shelmerdine (36th) has his best starting spot since he started 32nd at Texas World Speedway in June of 1981! (How’s that for going deep into the field for a stat?)
    STREAKIN….Ryan Newman has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.(Stock Car Fans)(11-12-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 11, 2004

  • Special Scheme for Wimmer: Scott Wimmer and the #22 will carry a new paint scheme with Acert Technology on the Caterpillar Dodge.(Bill Davis Racing Site)(11-11-2004)
  • Dale Jr.’s Pit Crew wins at Phoenix: The pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured the Phoenix competition of the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. The victory lifted the No. 8 team into first place in the pit crew standings with two races remaining in the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule. It was the fourth McDonald’s/POWERade win for the #8 crew and in three of those victories Earnhardt also won the race – Richmond (May 15), Talladega (Oct. 3) and Phoenix (Nov. 7). The McDonald’s/POWERade point standings got shuffled following the Phoenix race. Earnhardt’s team moved from third to first while Elliott Sadler’s team dropped from first to third. Tony Stewart’s team remained in second, three points out of the lead. The top four crews heading into Darlington (Nov. 14) are: Earnhardt’s (1194 points), Stewart’s (1191), Sadler’s (1181) and Kurt Busch’s (1179). Earnhardt’s crew is the reigning McDonald’s/POWERade champion. Earnhardt’s Budweiser Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on Phoenix International Raceway’s pit road with a time of 285.50 seconds. Biffle’s National Guard Ford was second at 325.98 and Jeff Burton’s AOL Chevy was third at 329.87. “Great team, great car, great pit stops,” said Earnhardt following his Phoenix victory. “What else can you say? I’m really proud of these guys for not giving up this year. We had awesome pit stops all day, and Tony (Eury) Sr. did a great job making the calls from the pits. Whether it was the decision to take four (tires), or the decision to stay out when I was hollerin’ on the radio to pit, Tony Sr. and Tony Jr. and the whole team earned their stripes.” The #8 over-the-wall crew consists of: Jeff Clarke (gasman), Kevin Pennell (jackman), Phil Drye (front tire changer), Danny Earnhardt (front tire carrier), Greg Burkhart (rear tire changer), Troy Prince (rear tire carrier), Craig Lund (catch can). Tony Eury Sr. is the crew chief and the car chief is Tony Eury Jr. The pit crew coach is Walt Smith.(DMF Comminications PR), see top-10 at Atlanta with time, season standings and more on my Pit Crew page.(11-11-2004)
  • Waltrip to be inducted into Hall of Fame: Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip heads the latest class of inductees into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Waltrip is joined by longtime drag racing stars Joe Amato and Bob Glidden, powerboat champion Chip Hanauer and Formula One and CART champion Nigel Mansell. Waltrip won Winston Cup titles in 1981, 1982 and 1985, driving for Junior Johnson. He also had 84 wins — tied for third all-time with former inductee Bobby Allison — 54 poles, and was named Driver of the Year three times. Amato had 54 NHRA Top Fuel wins and five division championships, both records. He also finished in the top 10 in points in each of his 19 seasons. Glidden captured 10 NHRA Pro Stock titles and another one in the IHRA. When he retired, Glidden was the NHRA’s winningest driver in any class with 85 career victories. Hanauer won seven Unlimited Hydroplane national and world titles and 61 national events, including a record 11 Gold Cup races. The five-member class will be inducted on April 28, 2005.(Greensboro News/AP)(11-11-2004)
  • UNC Charlotte Accepting Nominations for Alan Kulwicki Memorial Scholarship: The Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is now accepting applications for the 2005-2006 Alan Kulwicki Memorial Scholarship. Lee College annually awards the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Scholarship to an outstanding high school graduate who has an affiliation with NASCAR and who exemplifies the late Alan Kulwicki’s commitment to education and love of auto racing.
    With the financial support of R.J. Reynolds Company, UNC Charlotte established the Kulwicki Scholarship in 1994. The Kulwicki Scholarship is awarded to freshmen entering the motorsports engineering program at UNC Charlotte. It is given in memory of late NASCAR Winston Cup points champion Alan Kulwicki, who lost his life in a plane crash in 1993. Alan was an engineer himself, and a strong supporter of engineering and science education. Kulwicki was the first college graduate to win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship, an honor he deeply cherished.
    As the premier motorsports engineering program in the country, UNC Charlotte attracts top students from throughout the United States. The Lee College of Engineering has strong ties with many of the race teams in the Charlotte area, and UNC Charlotte engineering graduates can be found on numerous NASCAR teams.
    UNC Charlotte’s Kulwicki scholars have established a strong tradition of academic and auto racing excellence. Many of the winners are avid racecar drivers, as well as top engineers. UNC Charlotte motorsports engineering students have also built a reputation for racing success in the Inter-Collegiate Auto Racing Association, winning the collegiate National Championship the past five years.
    Scholarship application must be submitted to the Lee College of Engineering no later than February 1, 2005. For more information and an application see the scholarship link under the prospective students page at www.coe.uncc.edu.(UNC-Charlotte)(11-11-2004)
  • Gillette Young Guns – Weekly Update: Five of the six Gillette Young Guns finished in the top-10 at Phoenix on Sunday. If the Gillette Young Guns sweep the top six positions at the Ford 400 on November 21, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a fan correctly predicts the order in which they finish by registering at www.gilletteyoungguns.com, they will be entered into a random drawing for $5 million. Plus, if a fan wins $5 million, Gillette will make a matching $5 million charitable contribution to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC).
    By picking Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the top Gillette Young Gun finisher in the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 7th, Helen B of Cleveland, GA was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Helen picked Earnhardt Jr. as the highest finishing Young Gun by going to www.gilletteyoungguns.com and 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 Earnhardt Jr. This is the 12th time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Earnhardt Jr.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-11-2004)
  • Looks like Dave, Jack and #07…..and Philippe? Richard Childress is expected to announce a Jack Daniel’s sponsorship, to replace AOL, for his third team, for which Dave Blaney is expected to drive.(Winston Salem Journal) and the number switced from #30 to #07 and [see next blurb] Philippe Lopez as crew chief.(11-11-2004)
  • Lopez to Gibbs? BDR? RCR? UPDATE 2: Philippe Lopez, a crew chief who has been working in research and development at Joe Gibbs Racing [JGR] since August, was missing in action at Phoenix. Several possible scenarios were presented by garage sources: Lopez was offered the crew chief job on Gibbs’ #18 (Bobby Labonte) but turned it down, Lopez has discussed the #22 (Scott Wimmer) crew chief job with Bill Davis Racing, and Lopez could be reunited with Dave Blaney at Richard Childress Racing. “It’s a possibility,” Richard Childress says.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that Lopez has left JGR, no word on any more info.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: hearing Lopez is the leading canidate to go to the #22 team, not sure what current crew chief, Frank Stoddard would do, another position with BDR or go to another team.(11-10-2004)
    AND: also hearing that Lopez will be the crew chief for Dave Blaney at RCR in the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy.(that is one diecast I will buy)(11-11-2004)
  • Martin fastest at Wed. Homestead testing: #6-Mark Martin set the fastest lap Wednesday during the final day of testing in preparation for Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov 18-21. Martin set a fast lap of 176.759 mph (30.55 sec). For more information, or to order tickets to Ford Championship Weekend, call (305) 230-RACE or log on homesteadmiamispeedway.com.
    Unofficial times and speeds for selected drivers during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing November 9-10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series:
    1. 6- Mark Martin- 30.55 sec, 176.759 mph
    2. 24- Jeff Gordon 30.79 sec, 175.382 mph
    3. 48- Jimmie Johnson- 31.02 sec, 174.081 mph
    4. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr- 31.10 sec, 173.633 mph
    5. 20- Tony Stewart- 31.10 sec, 173.633 mph
    6. 38- Elliott Sadler- 31.11 sec, 173.576 mph
    7. 15- Michael Waltrip- 31.21 sec, 173.025 mph
    8. 9- Kasey Kahne- 31.23 sec, 172.911 mph
    9. 21- Ricky Rudd- 31.24 sec, 172.855 mph
    10. 06- Travis Kvapil- 31.25 sec, 172.800.(HMS PR)(11-11-2004)
  • Bruton Smith among Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame Inductees: Bruton Smith, founder and chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. is among four area sports legends selected for induction into the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame. Smith joins basketball legends Bobby Jones [76ers] and David Thompson along with the late Hoyt Wilhelm, an extremely durable and effective baseball relief pitcher, in the hall of fame’s class of 2005. Smith grew up on a modest farm near Oakboro, N.C., and parlayed his love for building things into a business empire, focusing on the motorsports and automotive industries. After promoting stock car races at numerous area short tracks, Smith spearheaded the construction of Lowe’s Motor Speedway [then Charlotte Motor Speedway] and the inaugural Coca-Cola 600 was run in June of 1960. In 1995, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. became the first auto racing company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, SMI owns and operates six premier motorsports facilities along with numerous related businesses. The Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame was established in the fall of 2003 to recognize and honor outstanding sports figures from the Charlotte region and to create greater public awareness of the area’s rich sports history and heritage. Seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt was among the first four athletes inducted into the hall of fame earlier this year. Smith and the other 2005 Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at a dinner celebration and tribute on April 16 at the Panthers Den at Bank of America Stadium.(LMS PR)(11-11-2004)
  • Cops suspended over Elliott Copter ride: Two Georgia State Patrol troopers were suspended without pay for letting NASCAR driver Bill Elliott hop a ride in their helicopter when they were supposed to be reporting about marijuana fields. The troopers spent two hours shuttling Elliott from his home in Dawsonville, where he had dropped off an airplane, back to Blairsville, where Elliott’s car was parked. Cpl. Kevin Coalson, the pilot, was suspended for three days last week, and Lt. Eddie Williams began a six-day suspension Monday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. During the June 29 flight over northern Georgia, Elliott, a licensed helicopter pilot, took the controls of the surplus military aircraft intended only for law enforcement. Meanwhile, anti-drug officers on the ground waited for details about the location of the marijuana fields. The newspaper said the troopers could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But according to investigative files, they said they didn’t know there was anything wrong with giving Elliott a ride.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)(11-11-2004)
  • Sad News: Dick King, former president of the U.S. Auto Club, died Monday of a heart attack while vacationing in Mexico. He was 73. King, who was to retire as president of USAC Properties next month, joined the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body as a member of the safety crew in 1967. The native of Niagara Falls, N.Y., served as USAC’s president from 1976-97, and was chairman of the board during most of that time. King’s tenure was marred by the 1978 plane crash that killed eight USAC employees — including five department heads, most hand-picked by King — and the split of Indy-car team owners to form the Championship Auto Racing Teams series that same year. King is survived by his wife, Nancy, and three children. Services are pending.(Indianapolis Star)(11-11-2004)
  • NASCAR Approves Hard Liquor as a sponsor in 2005: After conducting an extended review of its sponsorship policies and researching trends in consumer attitudes, NASCAR announced that distilled spirits products are now a new category for sponsorship in the sport beginning in the 2005 season. “We felt the time was right to allow distilled spirits companies into NASCAR,” said Mike Helton, President of NASCAR. “Attitudes have changed, and spirits companies have a long record of responsible advertising. Any spirits company involved in NASCAR will have marketing campaigns strongly grounded in responsibility and will follow advertising and marketing guidelines set by NASCAR that are consistent with the Distilled Spirits Council’s advertising code. Spirits companies are recognized as leaders in responsibility and are encouraging adults who choose to drink, to do so responsibly. We are confident that the spirits companies entering our sport will come to apply that same level of responsibility to their involvement in NASCAR, and will communicate the same responsible marketing and messages that beer companies have exhibited in the sport for the past 25 years,” Helton said. “Additionally, this will provide numerous new sponsorship opportunities to our teams. While the NASCAR industry will benefit across the board, teams will be the primary beneficiaries of this decision in a way that promotes a responsible drinking message consistent with the practices in other motorsports.”
    NASCAR’s internal review included outreach to advocacy groups such as the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and other experts in the field of alcohol-related issues. Additionally, NASCAR reached out to industry groups such as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and The Century Council. NASCAR based its guidelines on the input received from these groups. The distilled spirits companies participating in NASCAR must agree to comply with the Distilled Spirits Council’s “Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing” and abide by the Code Review Board’s decisions. Each company’s marketing activities will be grounded in a responsible behavior message. A dedicated portion of advertising by spirits companies in NASCAR will be solely focused on encouraging responsible drinking decisions, with all remaining advertising including a responsible behavior tag.(NASCAR PR), see past rumors about this on my NASCAR-Sponsors page.(11-10-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 10, 2004

  • So….what would the ‘Chase for the Nextel Cup’ look like with no penalties? If #42-Jamie McMurray [25 points penalized for car failing X-measurement], #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [50, 25 for on purpose spin for a caution at Bristol and 25 for cussing at Talladega on TV – ended up being 30 net off chase total, 25 for the cuss and 5 for dropping a spot in the points position at Richmond], #9-Kasey Kahne -25 points] and #20-Tony Stewart [25 points – no effect]. The standings if no points penalties:
    pos car#-driver points NO
    penalties
    points
    behind
    real chase
    start pos
    current chase
    points pos
    1 97-Busch 6191 x 7 1
    2 8-Earnhardt Jr. 6174 17 3 3(-47)
    3 24-Gordon 6150 41 1 2
    4 48-Johnson 6138 53 2 4(-48)
    5 42-McMurray 6125 66 out/11 out/11
    6 6-Martin 6089 102 8 5
    7 20-Stewart 6049 142 4 6
    8 38-Sadler 5869 322 6 8
    9 17-Kenseth 5855 336 5 9
    10 19-Mayfield 5831 360 10 10(-355)
    The race for 11th
    11 12-Newman 4222 x 9 7
    12 9-Kahne 4095 127 out/12 out/13
    13 88-Jarrett 4071 151 out/15 out/12
    14 29-Harvick 4027 195 out/14 out/14
    15 18-Labonte 4007 215 out/13 out/15

    (11-10-2004)

  • Earnhardt’s Windshield too thin UPDATE 2 Penalty: NASCAR officials confiscated the windshield from Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #8 Budweiser Chevy over the weekend. According to spokesman Mike Zizzo, the windshield was too thin and not approved. A penalty is likely, but to what extent will be determined by Nextel Cup series director John Darby, Zizzo said. The penalty should be announced this week.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-7-2004)
    UPDATE: the windshield was NOT run in the race, it was taken ‘over the weekend’. Minimum thickness is 1/4″.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Tony Eury Sr., crew chief for the #8 Chevrolet of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., was fined $2,500 for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules) for having a windshield on the car that was not an approved part and also did not meet the minimum required thickness of one-quarter inch. The infraction was discovered by NASCAR officials during opening-day inspection.(NASCAR PR)(11-10-2004)
  • NASCAR to investigate Harvick-Kahne clash UPDATE: NASCAR officials said they will investigate an incident between drivers #29-Kevin Harvick and #9-Kasey Kahne to determine if disciplinary action is needed. Kahne tried to pass Harvick on the last lap Sunday as the two cars bumped. When the race ended, Harvick pulled in front of Kahne’s car and blocked it before walking over to confront Kahne. Harvick, though, was restrained by crew members. “Kahne started running into me after a caution, so I wanted to stop and ask him what the problem was,” Harvick said. “Before that, I got to him a little bit, so I guess he was ticked off. But we were just racing hard.”(Dallas Morning News)(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: Drivers Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne were fined $10,000 each and placed on probation for their actions during an on-track incident that occurred after the conclusion of Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, NASCAR officials announced today. Harvick, driver of the# 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and Kahne, driver of the #9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports, were penalized for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book when the two made deliberate contact with each other following the conclusion of the race. Both drivers’ probation periods will extend to Nov. 30.(NASCAR PR)(11-10-2004)
  • Musgrave’s return to Cup UPDATE will not run at Darlington: Ted Musgrave is listed in the #7 Ultra Motorsports Dodge for the Final Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway entry list.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE: Ted Musgrave told MRN/Sirius Speedway host Dave Moody Tuesday that he will not drive Jim Smith’s Ultra Motorsports Nextel Cup Dodge this weekend at Darlington. “We were originally scheduled to do it, but a couple of weeks ago, it looked like we were going to be right in the thick of the Craftsman Truck Series championship hunt, so I decided it would be best to put my full attention there,” said Musgrave. Musgrave also dispelled rumors that he will move to the #2 Team ASE Dodge next season, saying, “It was talked about, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m happy right where I am in the Mopar Dodge, and Ultra Motorsports is going to have some big announcements about the #2 Truck fairly soon.”(MRN/Sirius Speedway)(11-10-2004)
  • Dale Jr’s teams: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to be running Mark McFarland out of JR Motorsports in the 2005 Hooters Pro Cup Series. Mark McFarland recently replaced TJ Majors in Dale Jr’s #17 late model stock car. Wednesday on NASCAR.com, Leilani sits down with Dale Jr and his new hot shoe, Mark McFarland. Catch “Leilani Reports” every Wednesday on NASCAR.com, her weekly featured video is FREE- no TrackPass subscription required.(11-10-2004)
  • Injured USAC Sprint Car Driver Begins Physical Therapy: Jimmy Weller III, injured in a USAC sprint car event at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Wednesday night, Oct. 13, has been moved from Carolinas Medical Center to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation and has begun physical therapy. Weller, 18, of Liberty, Ohio, suffered severe head trauma in the accident along with two cracked vertebrae which required surgery. Weller’s father reports his son’s condition continues to improve and family members are encouraged by the early results of the physical therapy. After being heavily sedated for several weeks, Weller is now able to sit up and converse. The Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation, part of the Carolinas HealthCare System, is one of the largest and most comprehensive freestanding facilities of its kind in the Southeast.(LMS PR)(11-10-2004)
  • Congrats: Team Cingular crew chief Chris Andrews is now the proud father of a baby girl. He and his wife welcomed their little girl into the world Monday evening. Andrews stayed home last weekend to be with his expectant wife. He will be back to racing this weekend at Darlington.(RCR PR)(11-10-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 9, 2004

  • Phoenix TV Ratings up 4%: NBC got a 4.9 rating for Sunday’s race at Phoenix, up 4 percent over last year. NBC and TNT are up 5 percent this year from last year in their ratings for the second half of the season. NBC is also up 5 percent in the eight Chase for the Nextel Cup races it has aired, despite losing a portion of its audience to hurricane coverage and damage in the first two weeks of the 10-week “playoff.”(ThatsRacin.com)(11-9-2004)
  • Eury, Sr. Wins WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: Tony Eury, Sr. brought his A-game to Phoenix International Raceway. His racecar dominated the action up front, leading an impressive 118 of 315 laps in the Checker Auto Parts 500. Even when an untimely caution period threatened to keep the #8 Monte Carlo out of Victory Lane, Eury, Sr. made the smart choice not to pit under the yellow. Eury’s decision gave Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the track position he needed to get the job done, bringing him a repeat win at Phoenix and his sixth victory of the season. For his combination of savvy strategy and on-track supremacy, Eury Sr. was voted by the FANS the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Ninety percent of the fans who logged onto www.WYPALL.com voted for Eury, Sr., noting his unmatched setup. Tony Eury, Sr. remains in first place with ten wins.(S.M.C. 500 PR)(11-9-2004)
  • ESPN/ABC….NASCAR on Wish List UPDATE CBS/Fox re-up with NFL: Wishes sometimes do come true, and at the top of ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer’s wish list is NASCAR. Participating in a roundtable on the future of sports TV that ESPN/ABC Sports hosted Wednesday for about 1,000 ad buyers, sports TV executives were asked by moderator Robin Roberts what events they would like to have. After Bodenheimer drew laughter for responding, “We want it all,” he said, “I would like to get NASCAR.” He added he also would be interested in The Masters. With CBS and cable’s USA Network entrenched in long-running one-year deals with The Masters, Bodenheimer’s second wish might be just wishful thinking. But NASCAR is different. ABC/ESPN were left with NASCAR memories when Fox and NBC/TNT quadrupled the stock car racing circuit’s rights fees to $400 million a year starting in 2001— Fox for eight years and NBC/TNT for six. Ratings for NASCAR have soared in the last four years, making the racing circuit the second-highest-rated sport to the NFL. Despite the ratings, the high rights fees have hampered Fox’s and NBC/TNT’s ability to make a profit. With ESPN/ABC missing NASCAR, the Disney networks can be expected to follow Bodenheimer’s wish and compete with NBC/TNT for the rights in the future.(in part from a Rudy Martzke on USA Today)(10-28-2004)
    UPDATE It had been widely speculated that NBC would get back into bidding for the NFL when the league’s current television contract came up. The Peacock Network dropped out of the NFL picture during the last round of negotiating and subsequently became a NASCAR partner, with a budget to bid on Nextel Cup racing and a Sunday afternoon programming slot to fill. ABC/ESPN has been lurking to return to the NASCAR world and would have lept at the chance if NBC got back into the NFL business. The logical move would have been for ABC to pick-up NBC’s portion if the NFL came back into the fold. But Monday’s announcement by the NFL that it had extended its contracts with CBS and FOX threw that scenario completely out the window. CBS will now have football through 2011, so NBC will no doubt be back to pitch for a NASCAR contract extension when the current deal expires after next season. FOX has two additiobal years on its deal, so only the second half package now carried by NBC/TNT will be in play. Several sources report ABC will be a major bidder for those rights and is willing to possibly overpay just to get NASCAR back into the fold.(see full column at RacingOne)(11-9-2004)
  • Cameron leaving West for Cup/Busch/Trucks: Bill McAnally Racing driver, Austin Cameron will be making his last appearance representing the team at the upcoming NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on November 13th. Cameron, who has been a series regular since 1998, is seeking opportunities to race in one of NASCAR’s national premier series. Cameron has made an appearance in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at the Infineon Speedway in both 2004 and in 2002. He looks forward to joining one of NASCAR national premier series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, NASCAR Grand National Busch, or the NASCAR Nextel Cup and record another Rookie-of-the-Year title and a series championship title.(RacingWest.com)(11-9-2004)
  • Robby Gordon sponsors? car #’s? UPDATE 4 Harrah’s?: hearing that Robby Gordon could have John Deere [Jayski owns one] or/and Red Bull [a long time Robby sponsor], still no word on a manufacturer or car number [he runs #55 in Busch, not used in Cup] for Robby. AND is was reported recently that Jack Daniel’s is still in play and RCR along with Gordon are in the mix, so #7 could be the car number also. Not sure if Gordon still plans to run Busch with Fruit of the Loom or if they will move up in some form. And yes, have seen the image of Gordon at Atlanta wearing a John Deere cap [Jayski has one too], see it at teamgordon.com.(11-3-2004)
    UPDATE: Gordon will talk to each of the manufacturers, Ford, Chevy, Dodge about running their brand, but expects it to be a Ford or Dodge as Chevy is loaded with teams (NASCAR Scene Print). So guess no RCR engines?
    UPDATE 2: being told that the car will be the #7 Ford and Larry Wallace will build the engines.(11-5-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Robby Gordon said he’s teaming with [#7 Ultra Motorsports] car owner Jim Smith next season, setting up a Nextel Cup team. “The only sponsors I can confirm are Harrah’s – which just bought Caesars, to become the largest gaming company – and Fruit of the Loom,” Gordon said. Gordon declined to announce his crew chief or any of the key men he had signed.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-6-2004)
    UPDATE 4: Robby Gordon, who is leaving Richard Childress Racing to start his own Nextel Cup team, said this weekend that Harrah’s Entertainment will sponsor his car next season. “Harrah’s is definitely part of our Cup sponsorship,” Gordon said. “I’ve had a relationship with Harrah’s for a long time. I’ve got really good friends there … and they’ve been a supporter of ours throughout the years.”(Las Vegas Sun)
    UPDATE 4a: BGNRacing.com has been told that the #55 team owned by Robby Gordon will continue to run in the Busch Series in ’05 for 24 races with Fruit of the Loom returning as the sponsor. The schedule will consist mostly of companion events and also include the Mexico City race in March.(BGNRacing.com)(11-9-2004)
  • World Financial Group returns as Sponsor of the #99: Roush Racing announced that World Financial Group, Inc. (WFG) will sponsor Carl Edwards and the #99 Roush Racing Ford once again this coming weekend at Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500. World Financial Group will appear as the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford for the second time in three weeks. In their first outing with the No. 99 team, Edwards and the #99 team gave WFG the ride of their life including a run for the win, never racing below sixth place in 325 laps. The #99 team’s showing at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a successful outing for first time sponsor World Financial Group, one that the company is using to their advantage. To date Edwards has accrued one top-five and four top-10 finishes in the NEXTEL Cup series in just 12 starts. World Financial Group, Inc. (WFG) is an independent marketing company whose affiliates offer life insurance and a broad array of financial products and services. Through its thousands of independent associates in the United States and Canada, World Financial Group strives to help individuals and families who are often overlooked by the financial services industry to plan for their financial futures and work toward their goals no matter what their income. For more information on World Financial Group log on to www.worldfinancialgroup.com.(Roush Racing PR)(11-9-2004)
  • BANG Racing close to announcement? Ward and Dodge? UPDATE: hearing that BANG Racing is close to signing their Cup and Busch deal for next year with Ward as the driver for the NetZero Dodge in Cup and Travis Kvapil in the Busch car [Dodge?] with Line-X as the sponsor. The team expects to announce a new General Manager soon also. See past news/ rumors on this team at my BANG Team News and Links page [fixed – until they have a car#](11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that NetZero will STAY with the #0 Haas CNC Chevy anf NOT go to BANG.(11-9-2004)
  • Homestead testing Today: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing continues at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a two-day session on Tuesday, November 9 and Wednesday, November 10 featuring seven out of the top-10 drivers competing in the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. A total of 28 drivers are scheduled to test in preparation for the upcoming Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, Nov. 18-21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The test sessions are open and free to the public each day from 9 am – 5 pm with seating in the Speedway Club level. Driver participation is subject to change. For more information or to order tickets to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, please call (305) 230-RACE or log on homesteadmiamispeedway.com
    Homestead-Miami Speedway NASCAR Testing Schedule
    (Driver Participation Subject to Change)
    Tuesday, November 9 – Wednesday, November 10
    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers:
    #6-Mark Martin; #99-Carl Edwards; #38-Elliott Sadler;
    #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.; #15-Michael Waltrip; #24-Jeff Gordon;
    #48-Jimmie Johnson; #19-Jeremy Mayfield; #21-Ricky Rudd;
    #30-Jeff Burton; #49-Ken Schrader; #59-Klaus Graf;
    #70-Larry Foyt (3rd BAM Racing Dodge); #01-Joe Nemechek;
    #36-Boris Said; #42-Jamie McMurray; #41-Casey Mears;
    #11-J.J. Yeley; #18-Bobby Labonte; #20-Tony Stewart;
    #06-Travis Kvapil.(HMS PR)(11-9-2004)
  • Kahne to test at Kentucky next week: #9-Kasey Kahne is scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Monday, November 15. Test sessions begin at approximately 9:00am. Fans can view testing from the designated area outside the speedway Fan Center in Turn 3.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(11-9-2004)
  • Sunoco Planning NASCAR Holiday Toy Sales: Richard and Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Robby Gordon will be featured on Sunoco’s holiday toy trucks this year, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The petroleum company, which is in the first year of a 10-year deal to be NASCAR’s official fuel supplier, will put 150,000 of the toy trucks on sale at $19.99 on Nov. 23, and some proceeds will go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. Sunoco, Equity Marketing, Petty Enterprises, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR will together contribute $250,000 to the camp through royalties or as outright donations. The trucks are scheduled to be sold at Sunoco stations and A-Plus Stores.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-9-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 8, 2004

  • Boris to run at Homestead: Boris Said will enter the final Nextel Cup race of the season, Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, driving the #36 USG Durock Brand Chevrolet for MB2 Motorsports. Contrary to his reputation as a NASCAR road-racing specialist, the Homestead race will be Said’s third oval appearance of the season. His first two oval races were at the season-opening Bud Shootout in Daytona and the September Cup event at California Speedway in Fontana. He finished 10th in Daytona and 30th in Fontana. Said also competed in the June road race in Sonoma, Calif. where he posted a sixth-place result. He was scheduled to drive the USG Durock Chevy in the August road race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., but did not make the starting field after rain forced NASCAR to cancel the qualifying session and set the lineup based on car owner’s points. In each of the above races, Said was entered under the MB2 Motorsports banner. “Every time I get to drive in a Cup race I get pumped because this is where I want to be,” offered Said. “It was a major disappointment not to be part of the Watkins Glen race and I am thankful to both USG and MB2 for having another opportunity to compete against the best drivers in the world.” One of Said’s 12 career NASCAR Cup races was at the 1999 Homestead event when he drove an Ernie Irvan-owned car. He qualified 27th and finished 34th. “The track has been reconfigured since then and I am looking forward to going there and testing with (MB2 teammate/U.S. Army driver) Joe Nemechek,” offered Said. Said and Nemechek will test in Homestead Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 9 & 10). Said’s sponsor for the Homestead race — USG Durock Brand Cement Board — is a high-strength ceramic tile backer that provides superior tile adhesion.(MB2 Motorsports PR)(11-8-2004)
  • Crew Chief’s son wins: Brandon Hylton, the son of Busch Series [#33 KHI] crew chief Butch Hylton, scored a big win at the prestigious North-South Shoot OutThunder Roadster race at Concord Motorsports Park on Saturday. The weekend started out great for Brandon when he won his qualifying race on Friday night, giving him the pole for the 50 lap main on Saturday. Brandon led the first 5 laps then was punted back to 4th because of contact from the 2nd place car Adam Welch, after gathering up his car he settled in and worked back to the front, after a huge battle with Welch were they swapped the lead 4 times in 8 laps, Brandon took the lead for good with 12 laps to go and went on to score the biggest win of his young career.(BKB2 Motorsports PR)(11-8-2004)
  • Victory Junction Gang Receives Donation From Timken Foundation: The Victory Junction Gang Camp, which provides year-round camp sessions for children aged 7-15 with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, today announced a donation of $80,000 from the Timken Foundation of Canton, OH. Victory Junction will use the donation to fund the tunnel located near the Welcome Center of the camp. It will be called the Timken Tunnel. Each child will experience the thrill of entering the camp just as a race car driver would when entering the race track. At the presentation on November 8, Michael Karaman, Kurt Sullivan, and Tracey Graham from The Timken Asheboro Plant, Located in Randleman, NC, presented a check to the camp’s founder, Richard Petty on behalf of the Timken Foundation. The Timken Foundation of Canton was established in 1934 by members of the Timken Family using a portion of their personal income from Timken Roller Bearing Company stock (now The Timken Company). It was their desire that a charitable institution be established to allow some of their personal wealth to flow back into the plant communities in which the company’s earnings were generated. This concept of a charitable foundation supported by a share of the family’s personal income from company stock has been preserved and expanded by subsequent generations of the Timken Family. The Timken Foundation generally makes grants for capital projects in the specific communities in which The Timken Company has a significant presence.(VJGC PR)(11-8-2004)

News and Rumors from November 7, 2004

 

  • Dale Jr. repeats at Phoenix: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, his 2nd win in a row at the track, his 6th of 2004 and 15th of his career. Earnhardt Jr. also led the most laps with 118 as the race ran three laps long with a Green-White-Checker finish as there was a late caution and debris and oil on the track after #41-Mear wrecked and #31-Gordon lost an engine in unrelated incidents. #12-Ryan Newman finished 2nd, followed by #24-Gordon, #29-Harvick and #9-Kahne. Harvick and Kahne beat and banged a bit on the last few laps going for 4th, then had words on pit road after Kahne tapped Harvicks car on pitroad. #97-Busch finished 10th and maintains the points lead, now down from 96 to 41 with #24-Gordon 2nd and Earnhardt Jr. up to 3rd, only 47 points back.
    See race results at:
    JAYSKI’s Phoenix Race Results/Awards Page
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    NASCAR.com.(11-7-2004)
  • Hendrick stops by shop: Hendrick Motorsports had a welcome visitor to its sprawling complex earlier this week. Owner Rick Hendrick, who lost his son, his brother, two nieces and two key employees in a plane crash two weeks ago, showed up at the team’s race shop to meet with Hendrick employees. His wife Linda and his daughter Lynn also came to the shop to address Hendrick staffers.(NASCAR.com)(11-7-2004)
  • Drivers not happy with garage security: NASCAR’s garage security has been terrible this season on the Nextel Cup tour, forcing drivers back into hiding in their motor coaches, to avoid being mobbed by the hundreds of fans swarming through the working areas. Yesterday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally had enough, and to make a point with lackadaisical NASCAR officials, Earnhardt took a page from his late father’s book. He sat down on the rear deck of the NASCAR trailer and signed autographs for the crowd that quickly packed the area, making it impossible for officials to enter or leave.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-7-2004)
  • Gordon has never won at Phoenix: There are four current race tracks the Nextel Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at, Phoenix International Raceway is one, where Gordon is 0 for 11, Gordon’s best finish at PIR is 3rd in 2002. Other tracks where Gordon has not won: Texas [0 for 8], Homestead [0 for 5] and Chicago [0 for 4].(11-7-2004)
    NOW Gordon is 0 fir 12 at Phoenix.(11-7-2004)
  • Wood Brothers hire pit crew coach: The Wood Brothers and pit stops have been synonymous for years and years. The pit crew for the present day Wood Brothers Racing #21 Motorcraft Taurus won the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship for its work at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend. Current Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood says the team’s pit crew has been getting better and better, and the very recent addition of Gary Smith as pit-crew coach also has helped. “Our crew had been coming together really quickly since Fatback [McSwain] got here, and last Sunday was basically proof of it. We just hired a pit-crew coach, Gary Smith, and his first day was at Atlanta. Basically, what we had has gotten better since Fatback got here,” said co-owner Eddie Wood.(Ford Racing/Campbell PR)(11-7-2004)
  • Newman’s Average Finish: in the eight previous races in 2004 where #12-Ryan Newman has won the Budweiser Pole, he has an average finish of 9.4. In the other 25 races his average finish is 18.1. Newman also has four outside pole [2nd] starting positions, only a 17.3 average finish from those.(11-7-2004)
  • Papas Looking for a NASCAR gig: Rolex Sports Car champion Max Papis was hanging out behind Jimmie Johnson’s hauler after yesterday’s final Nextel Cup practice. Papis, who clinched this year’s title with co-driver Scott Pruett by winning the season finale at California Speedway last week, would like to secure a Busch Series ride and has tested Dodges with Evernham Motorsports. “I feel very comfortable every time I come to a Cup race,” said the Italian, who won in CART driving for Bobby Rahal. “I’m a European, but I feel American in my heart. It’s not about the race cars, it’s about the people you have around. People have adopted me here.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-7-2004)
  • Exclusive Springs Supplier for Daytona/Talladega: per Speed Channel’s coverage of the SEMA show in Las Vegas, it was mentioned that on Monday, Nov 1st, Eibach Springs announced that they would be the exclusive spring supplier for the two restrictor plate tracks, where NASCAR issues and maintain control over rear springs.(11-7-2004)
  • Questionable Yellow? NASCAR’s late yellow at Atlanta has provoked questions in the Cup garage about the inconsistency in NASCAR’s reaction to such situations. The caution was put out for Kevin Harvick’s stalled car on pit road. Jack Roush, car owner for Mark Martin, who lost the race in part because of that yellow, questioned the call. Now others in the Cup garage are also questioning the call, pointing to a similar situation earlier in that race where NASCAR officials let teams pit while Elliott Sadler’s crew had his car up on jack stands on pit road for repairs.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-7-2004)
  • Phoenix Race Notes:
    —- Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Havoline, scoring his 15th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 181st career start. His last victory came at Talladega October 3, 2004, five races ago.
    —- Earnhardt Jr. moved into a tie with Ernie Irvan for 40th on NASCAR’ all-time win list.
    —- It is Earnhardt Jr.’s sixth victory in 2004 and his second victory in five races at Phoenix International Raceway. It is his third straight top-10 finish at the Arizona superspeedway, including back-to-back victories.
    —- Twelve of Earnhardt’s 15 victories have occurred on superspeedways.
    —- Earnhardt Jr. climbed from fifth to third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
    —- Earnhardt Jr. led three times for 118 laps including the final 12, leading the most laps for the fifth time in 2004.
    —- This was the 21st victory for Chevrolet. Ford has nine and Dodge has four. Chevrolet leads Ford (555-553) in all-time victories (since 1949). Notebook Items The Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
    —- First to 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings are separated by 355 points, and the top-four drivers are separated by only 48 points. The Chase began with a 45-point separation between first and 10th at Race No. 27 at New Hampshire. The largest current point margin is between seventh-place Ryan Newman and eighth-place Elliott Sadler (172 points).
    —- Six of the 10 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup posted top-10 finishes in the 2004 Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Havoline Four drivers in the top-10 in points changed positions in the race.
    —- Seven of the eight Chase races have been won by drivers competing in The Chase: New Hampshire (Kurt Busch), Dover (Ryan Newman), Talladega (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), Charlotte (Jimmie Johnson), Martinsville (Jimmie Johnson), Atlanta ( Jimmie Johnson) and Phoenix (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). Kansas (Joe Nemechek) is the only race that was won by a non-Chase driver.
    —- Kurt Busch is the only driver to score a top-10 finish in seven of the eight races in the Chase.
    —- Entering Phoenix, six drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart were in the 156-point window which would allow any of the six to leave Phoenix with the point lead. Leaving Phoenix, with two races remaining, seven drivers are in the point window in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and are all within 150 points of the point leader and could possibly overtake Kurt Busch at Darlington Raceway for the point lead. Newman joined the group as a result of his second-place finish.
    —- Eighth through 10th all trail by more than 156 points and cannot overtake Kurt Busch at Darlington.
    —- Three of the Chase drivers finished 21st or worse in the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Havoline: Jeremy Mayfield (21st), Matt Kenseth (36th) and Elliott Sadler (38th).
    —- Ryan Newman (second) scored his 14th top-10 finish of the season. It was second top-five finish in five races at Phoenix International Raceway.
    —- Jeff Gordon (third) scored his 23rd top-10 finish in 2004. It was his 10th top-10 finish in 12 races at Phoenix.
    —- Kevin Harvick (fourth) scored his 13th top-10 finish of the season. It was his first top-10 finish in four races at Phoenix International Raceway.
    —- Kasey Kahne (fifth) scored his 13th top-10 finish of the season. It was his first race at Phoenix International Raceway.
    —- Bobby Labonte (ninth) scored his first top-10 finish since he finished seventh at Daytona in July, 17 races ago.
    —- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader bonus will be worth $60,000 at Darlington Raceway.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-7-2004)
  • StockCarFans.Com – Rumblings – Phoenix: We beat the rain, and finished in the gloaming, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. held on today at Phoenix International Raceway to win the Checker Auto Parts 504.8 (didn’t think I could convert miles to kilometers, huh?) as we went overtime to decide it. Jr’s rather comfortable win (1.43 seconds) was good for #6 this season and the 15th of his career (he’s tied with Ernie Irvan for 40th all-time). He also executes a back-to-back as he won this event last November. Win #21 for DEI was worth $274,503 from the over $4.8M in posted awards. We had a green/white/checked today and survived it again….
    Rusty Wallace (7th) had his best finish since he won at Martinsville in April. Bobby Labonte (9th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Daytona in July. Kevin Lepage (27th) had his best finish since he was 22nd at Rockingham in February (only 15 races). STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 4 Top-10’s in a row.
    Kurt Busch has 7 Top-10’s in the last 8 races.
    This Week’s Elevator….UP: NOBODY! Bobby Labonte (+18) and Kurt Busch (+18) get honorable mention. DOWN: The Big Dropper (for the second week in a row) was Elliott Sadler (-29), followed by Casey Mears (-27), and Matt Kenseth (-20).
    The “Chase” got tighter today as Kurt Busch’s lead is now down to 41 markers….this time over Jeff Gordon. The Top-4 are separated by 48 points. The bottom three will be eliminated (for all practical purposes) as soon as Busch throws the ignition switch next Sunday.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(11-7-2004)


    November 6, 2004

  • Slower Pit Stops in 2005? NASCAR wants to slow pit stops next season on the Nextel Cup and Busch tours, and officials are considering a drastic change in the fuel-dump cans. Now a gas man can dump two 11-gallon cans in a car in about 11 seconds, and that has put a remarkable premium on car owners putting together a pit crew fast enough to change four tires in that brief time span. By ordering teams to use fuel cans with smaller spouts, NASCAR officials hope to slow the dump time to 19 seconds. In turn, that would lessen the need for lightning-fast pit crews. But some top pit-crew men are upset with NASCAR’s plans, saying NASCAR is playing to car owners, who have been complaining about the rising cost of hiring fast pit-crew men.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-6-2004)
  • RG Motorsports sponsors? car #’s? UPDATE 3: hearing that Robby Gordon could have John Deere [Jayski owns one] or/and Red Bull [a long time Robby sponsor], still no word on a manufacturer or car number [he runs #55 in Busch, not used in Cup] for Robby. AND is was reported recently that Jack Daniel’s is still in play and RCR along with Gordon are in the mix, so #7 could be the car number also. Not sure if Gordon still plans to run Busch with Fruit of the Loom or if they will move up in some form. And yes, have seen the image of Gordon at Atlanta wearing a John Deere cap [Jayski has one too], see it at teamgordon.com.(11-3-2004)
    UPDATE: Gordon will talk to each of the manufacturers, Ford, Chevy, Dodge about running their brand, but expects it to be a Ford or Dodge as Chevy is loaded with teams (NASCAR Scene Print). So guess no RCR engines?
    UPDATE 2: being told that the car will be the #7 Ford and Larry Wallace will build the engines.(11-5-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Robby Gordon said he’s teaming with [#7 Ultra Motorsports] car owner Jim Smith next season, setting up a Nextel Cup team. “The only sponsors I can confirm are Harrah’s – which just bought Caesars, to become the largest gaming company – and Fruit of the Loom,” Gordon said. Gordon declined to announce his crew chief or any of the key men he had signed.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-6-2004)
  • New Qualifying format in 2005? UPDATE: Bob Dilner reported on Speed Channel that qualifying in 2005 for the Cup Series could have a different look in 2005, with the top 35 teams [owners points? drivers points?] be assured to make the top 35 no matter how fast or slow they are. From 36 on back could not get the pole and would be set by speed. No word on if provisionals would still be used. This is supposedly one of a few scenarios NASCAR is thinking about regarding qualifying in 2005.(10-30-2004)
    UPDATE: New qualifying procedures will likely be in place at more than half the races on the 2005 Nextel Cup schedule, including a guarantee that the top 35 teams in the car owners’ points would get a starting spot in each week’s event. Nextel Cup Series director John Darby confirmed Friday that Nextel Cup is heading toward a process used several times this year in the Busch Series, where cars are impounded by NASCAR after qualifying and would then start the race with the same set-up they had for the time trials. “That would allow the teams to have one focus per weekend,” Darby said. “They would leave the shop in race set-up, then unload at the track and qualify and race with the car in race trim.” Currently, Nextel Cup teams practice and then make two-lap qualifying runs on Fridays in a typical race weekend. They then change their cars dramatically before a running a pair of Saturday morning practices the way their cars will be for Sunday’s race. Darby said the “ideal” schedule for 2005 would be Friday afternoon practices with Cup qualifying at midday Saturday preceding a Busch or Truck series support race. Cup cars would be impounded after qualifying and teams would be able to make only slight adjustments – air pressure in tires, for instance – before the green flag on Sunday.
    There other major change in qualifying rules would be in effect at all tracks, however. The top 35 cars in owner points would be guaranteed a starting spot to protect teams running full schedules from being bumped by part-time teams who show up in qualifying mode to make a race with no regard of how that car would do in the race. There were 50 cars entered in this weekend’s Checker 500 at Phoenix. Under the new set-up, the top 35 in points would be guaranteed spots. The other 15 cars would compete for the remaining eight slots [a heat race would be cool]. The field would still be lined up based on speed. But if the eighth fastest car not in the 35 in points had the 29th best speed, positions 30 through 43 would be filled by cars in the top 35, ranked by speed, even if the ninth best car among those not in the top 35 went faster.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-6-2004)
  • $1 Millions Bucks: Clarence Moody could leave Phoenix International Raceway tomorrow $1 million richer. Moody, a 76-year-old from Mustang, Okla., is one of three grand prize winners as guests of ChevronTexaco this weekend as Havoline celebrates its 100th Anniversary with the $1 Million Birthday Bash consumer promotion. Yesterday, the three grand prize winners drew Jamie McMurray’s qualifying position for Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Havoline at Phoenix International Raceway. Moody drew the number ten. As fate would have it, McMurray wound up qualifying the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge in the 10th position. As a result, Moody is now eligible for the $1 million grand prize. If McMurray wins tomorrow’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Phoenix, Moody will win $1 million. In addition, Anna Bachmann and Patrick Cadigan, the other two grand prize winners, will receive $100,000. Moody qualified through the Birthday Bash sweepstakes entry promotion that ran May 1 – July 31, 2004. Moody is a long-time Havoline user that still changes his own oil. He is an avid NASCAR fan, and this weekend marks the first time he has attended a NASCAR race. Moody, who lost his wife in 1998, has his son Bryon here with him. He retired from the civil service after working 30 years at Tinker Air Force Base. If he wins the $1 million, he will take some vacations, help his kids out and make a few donations to charities.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(11-6-2004)


    November 5, 2004

  • Join up to watch Mikey run: Join the fun in Las Vegas, Nevada in January 2005 and participate in the “Operation Marathon Getaway”. “Operation Marathon Getaway” is an opportunity for the fans to help support and participate in Michael and Buffy Waltrip’s “Operation Marathon”. For more info on the packages available, how you can help and on the marathon, see my Racing Charities page and scroll down to the heading “Michael Waltrip’s Operation Marathon”.(11-5-2004)
  • Rusty Wallace announces 2nd Busch team: Rusty Wallace Inc. announced on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway the signing of Miller High Life to the #64 Dodge in 2005. The car will be driven by Jeremy Mayfield for 17 races. Top Flite will also sponsor the car and will be driven by Jamie McMurray in other events. Wallace’s original team, the #66, will continue to run but a driver has yet to be named. Wallace also said that as of now, he plans on making the trip to Mexico City as the driver. Since it is a standalone Busch event, none of his sponsors have yet decided to jump on board for that weekend.(BGNRacing.com)(11-05-2004)
  • Joy makes a Pit Stop: Thanks to fast planning by executive director Paul Smith, and the surgical skills of Dr. Michael Campbell, FOX Sports NASCAR anchor Mike Joy made a brief pit stop at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center yet still made it to Phoenix on time. Joy checked into the hospital’s emergency room Monday morning with acute stomach pain. Campbell removed Joy’s gall bladder Tuesday at noon, and less than 48 hours later, Mike was flying to Phoenix. “Other than a little soreness around one incision, I feel fine… its pretty amazing,” Joy said . This was once considered major surgery, and now its a comparatively minor procedure.” Ironically, Joy was scheduled for tests Monday at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to try and pin down the source of occasional stomach pain. “Fortunately, Paul was able to put things in motion quickly, and everything went very smoothly. Its a time when you really appreciate the efforts of friends and family.”(11-5-2004)
  • Toyota gearing up for Cup?: Toyota, which competes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, could be prepairing for its expected move to the Nextel Cup Series by pulling out of the Indy Racing League following the 2006 season, according to Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press. The move would allow the automaker to utilize more of its resources for its Cup series program, which could be up and running by 2007. The news comes two days after General Motors announced that it was pulling out of the IRL after the 2005 season.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-5-2004)
  • Gaughan Speaks UPDATE 2005 plans up-in-the air: Brendan Gaughan says he “doesn’t really care anymore” about behind-the-scenes maneuvering at Penske-Jasper Motorsports, and is concentrating on the next three races. Asked about Penske Racing’s decision to field a fourth car at Martinsville and Atlanta for former Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, Gaughan told MRN Radio/Sirius Speedway’s Dave Moody that the situation is frustrating. “Stuff we’ve been asking for all season and not getting, all of a sudden they’ve got it,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it, and I really don’t care anymore. All I can do is take what they give me and do my best with it, and the last couple of weeks, it’s been pretty good.” Gaughan declined to comment on rumors that he has spoken with Haas CNC Racing about replacing Ward Burton next season, saying, “If other people are looking at me and liking what they see, I’m flattered. But right now, I’m focused on the last three races of the season. After that, we’ll worry about what comes next.”(MRN Radio/Sirius Speedway)(11-3-2004)
    UPDATE: Nextel Cup rookie Brendan Gaughan said Friday he has no idea where he stands with his Penske-Jasper Racing team in regards to the 2005 season. Gaughan said that if he doesn’t return to the #77 Kodak Dodges next season, he has other opportunities available, including returning to the Truck series with a team his family owns and partnering with its current driver, Steve Park; and other Cup rides. Haas CNC Racing has spoken to Gaughan about driving its #0 Chevrolets next season, Gaughan said, but no decision has been made. Gaughan, who has driven for Dodge virtually his entire racing career, said there would be no conflicts driving Haas’ Chevrolets if that were the only Cup opportunity he was offered.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-5-2004)
  • Roush Truck/Busch Lineup to Change: The makeup of Roush Racing’s Busch and Truck series teams are likely to undergo major changes next season. Much of the change depends on the organization’s ability to land a sponsor for its #99 Ford in the Nextel Cup Series. Carl Edwards is currently driving the car and will remain in it should a sponsor be secured. If no sponsor turns up, Edwards will likely move to the Busch series and drive the #60 Ford, team officials confirmed. Edwards would take over for Greg Biffle, who drove the car this season. Edwards and Jon Wood currently drive Roush’s Truck entries this season, but Wood also appears headed for the Busch series next year, likely with ST Motorsports [#47, #59]. Roush officials say they plan to run two trucks next season and at least one of the drivers will come from a tryout system that began last week at North Wilkesboro, N.C. Ten drivers remain in the competition and they will test again Nov. 15 at Darlington.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-5-2004)
  • CASCAR and NASCAR delayed UPDATE Nov 18th: CASCAR president Tony Novotny delayed an announcement that was scheduled for Oct 30th that the national stock car racing body has entered into an agreement with NASCAR. “We’ve been trying really, really hard to pull something together and hopefully we’ll have something in the next few weeks,” Novotny said. “Everybody knows we’ve been talking to them, but they move really, really slow.” It’s been speculated for almost two years that NASCAR would be buying CASCAR, which Novotny established in 1981 and is headquartered in Komoka [Canada]. CASCAR lost its flagship track, Delaware Speedway, this past season when it switched sanctioning to NASCAR and the Dodge Weekly Series. But Delaware retained its two CASCAR Super Series races. Novotny’s announcement was to have come during CASCAR’s annual awards dinner at the London Convention Centre Saturday.(London Free Press)(11-1-2004)
    UPDATE: Dave Despain mentioned on Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel that the announcement would be November 18th.(11-5-2004)
  • France talks to XM: NASCAR Chair and CEO Brian France joined Claire B. Lang [CBL] on “Dialed In” on XM Satellite Radio Wednesday [Nov. 4th]. He answered questions from fans and CBL. Among the issues that came up were the upcomming TV contract and the Dale Junior point penalty for swearing.
    Question: With the TV contract coming up, are you looking to have more races on the network channels, or are you looking to expand it more onto cable?
    Brian France: Well, we like the current balance that we have now, so we wouldn’t be interested in changing that around too much, but you know you have to see how things play out. And we also really like our partners, we think that that’s our first goal is to renew with the group that we have now at Fox, and TNT/NBC, they do a really good job – they get it, the races are entertaining in how they present them, my hope is that we’ll figure out a way to renew our existing agreements with our partners.
    Question: you fine these drivers, monetary amounts for swearing, and then deduct driver points and team points, my question is, why wouldn’t you just go with the monetary fine, but make it, you know, their first offense around $50,000, and then up from there, because, $10,000 is nothing to these guys.
    Brian France: Yea, that’s a good question, and matter of fact, I’m glad you asked that question, that’s the most often thing, and I haven’t addressed this, other than on this show, and I’ll do it right now, I’m sure you’re referring to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. penalty, right?
    Question: Drivers that were fined driver points.
    Brian France: Here’s the problem. If we just went with a monetary penalty, many drivers will tell you, they don’t care. Now, the drivers that are doing real well financially will say that. Now other drivers, a rookie driver, a Busch driver, who’s just getting started, they would care. So the problem that we have is, on important matters that we want the drivers to conform to, we have to have a floating scale, we’d have to know your balance sheet – what’s enough to make Dale Earnhardt [Jr.] think about it, and a Busch driver another. So what would we do? Have a floating scale based on your net worth? I mean, you can’t do it that way. If it’s a serious matter, then the only thing that all drivers understand are points. And we were consistently consistent when we told everybody at the beginning of the year we had an issue, that was right after the Super Bowl, under the backdrop of the FCC clamping down, our network partners called us and said you’ve got to – this is serious, you’ve got to help us, we’re pumping racing into people’s living rooms, and we’re just not going to tolerate profanity and other things, and we understood that, and we passed it on to the drivers, and we told them, this is a serious matter, you’re all aware of it, and then we were consistent. We have everybody the same penalty – the two guys that did it before Dale Jr – we had no other option but to do that. And that’s why we don’t have just a monetary fine. And I wish it weren’t so serious of an issue, that the Super Bowl, and I wish that that incident didn’t happen, the FCC and Howard Stern, and all the things that swirl around out there, that the FCC feels very strongly that has to be addressed – it’s not my view, it’s their view, and we have to conform to it.(XM Satellite Radio) and for those who don’t know, XM Radio has a 2nd NASCAR channel, #145, used on raceday only: “NASCAR Radio fans, now you can hear your favorite drivers talk with their teams at any point during the race. With XM NASCAR Radio 2, you’ll hear real-time, in-race conversations between the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers and their crews.”(11-5-2004)
  • Dale Jr. Awaits Release of ‘3’: An ESPN movie about Dale Earnhardt, who died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, is scheduled for airing early next month. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is eagerly awaiting its release. “From day one, I’ve been pretty excited about it,” said Earnhardt Jr., last year’s Checker Auto Parts 500 champion at Phoenix International Raceway. “I really, really hope they did a good job. You know, the stuff that they’ve done in the past on that network has been pretty good. I’ve been pretty surprised actually by the quality of the films that they’ve had. I think there obviously will be a little bit of a Hollywood twist to a few things. I’m sure you can’t expect somebody to tell the most accurate story unless you’re going to write a book. You know, every film has a twist, a Hollywood flair to it. I’m sure this one will, too.” The movie, titled 3, stars Barry Pepper, who also played New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 61*.(Arizona Republic), info on this movie and other NASCAR related movies on my Racing Movies page.(11-5-2004)
  • Rusty and Newman still haven’t talked: It sounds as if the shops of Penske South Racing might not be the warmest places in the world right now. Not with two of its drivers continuing to feud. Never close, Penske drivers #2-Rusty Wallace and #12-Ryan Newman have drifted even farther apart these days. So it sounds, anyway. The latest point of contention involves the race at Martinsville two weeks ago. Wallace thought his teammate treated him roughly on the track and may have cost him a victory. This week, Wallace was asked whether things have been smoothed over between him and Newman. “No,” Wallace said. “We’ve got a long way to go yet. We haven’t had time to sit down and work it out. We’ve definitely got a lot of work to do to get all the teams working together. He’s seeing red, and I’m seeing blue. We’re not seeing eye to eye at all on what’s going on right now.” Wallace said he hopes things can be straightened out before the 2005 season, which will be his last as a full-time driver at Penske.(Kansas City Star)(11-5-2004)
  • Jason Jarrett looking: ML Motorsports officials have confirmed that Jason Jarrett, driver of the #67 ML Motorsports ARCA Series Chevrolet since 2001, has been released as the team’s driver.(RacingOne), Jason is the son of 1999 Cup Champ Dale Jarrett and grandson of 2 time Cup Champ Ned Jarrett.(11-5-2004)


    November 4, 2004

  • Sponsor for the #4 at Phoenix IMAGE: Morgan-McClure Motorsports announced a new relationship with Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, Inc. for the #4 Chevrolet in the upcoming Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. In addition, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, Inc. continues its relationship with Wide Open Performance Enhanced Formula Energy Drink. New to the marketplace, Wide Open Performance Enhanced Formula Energy Drink will be launched in the majority of Love’s 164 travel stops and convenience stores located throughout the United States beginning the week of November 8, 2004. Wide Open Performance Energy Drink (www.4wideopen.com) is a “Made in the USA,” New Wave Beverage containing a unique proprietary blend of vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants formulated to boost energy, enhance performance and relieve stress. Based in Abingdon, Virginia, Wide Open Performance, Inc. is a homegrown American brand designed specifically for the racing enthusiast and those who live life “Wide Open. Loves Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc., (www.loves.com) based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is a Forbes 500 Company of a 164 travel stops and convenience stores in 25 states. Founded by Tom Love in 1964, it remains family owned.(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR), added an image of the car on the #4 Team Paint Schemes page.(11-4-2004)
  • Rudd’s Pit Crew Claims Atlanta Win; Four Crews in Hunt For $200,000 Champion’s Bonus: Ricky Rudd’s pit crew won the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was the first victory for No. 21 crew in the weekly competition that pays $20,000 to the winner. Heading into the final three races of the season, the McDonald’s/POWERade points race has heated up with four pit crews in a closely-contested battle for the $200,000 champion’s bonus. Leading the chase is the No. 38 pit crew for Elliot Sadler with 1160 points. Tony Stewart’s crew is second with 1152 points, third is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew (1151) and fourth is Kurt Busch’s crew (1144). Rudd’s Rent-a-Center Motorcraft Ford spent the least amount of time on Atlanta’s pit road with a time of 280.639 seconds. Stewart’s Home Depot Chevrolet was second at 285.441 and Michael Waltrip’s NAPA Chevy was third at 286.842. “I’m real proud of the guys,” said Rudd. “They were really decent from the beginning of the year, but have gotten even better the past few weeks. I knew they were quick because we went forward all day. I’m just real proud of them. Our crew has picked up the pace, and we’ve got Gary Smith (pit crew trainer) on board now. He has trained a lot of the top teams and he has helped.” Rudd’s crew chief, Michael “Fatback” McSwain said, “Our crew and Ricky have really been working hard on this. It is good to see that all the hours they have put in practicing, and Ricky working on getting on and off pit road, have really paid off.” Rudd’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Tony Martin (jackman), Mike “Andretti” Smith (front-tire changer), Andy Silver (front-tire carrier), Rob Fuller (rear-tire changer), Heath Cherry (rear-tire carrier), Henry Benfield (gasman) and Marc Smith (catch can). (DMF Comminications PR), see top-10 at Atlanta with time, season standings and more on my Pit Crew page.(11-4-2004)
  • Kenseth fastest at Homestead testing on Wednesday: Defending series champion Matt Kenseth set the fastest lap of the day Wednesday in the second day of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing in preparation for Ford Championship Weekend, Nov. 18-21, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kenseth circled the 1.5 mile oval in his #17 Dewalt Ford Tuesday with a speed of 174.194mph (31.04 sec.). He was followed by Kyle Petty’s #45 Georgia Pacific Dodge at 173.633 mph (31.10 sec.) and Busch’s #97 Sharpie Ford at 173.054 mph (31.25 sec.). Testing continues next Tuesday and Wednesday November 8-9 with 20 drivers tentatively scheduled to test on the high-banked 1.5 mile oval, including championship contenders Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Testing is open to the public free of charge. Fans may view the testing from the Speedway’s Club Level.
    Tentative list of drivers participating in Nov 8 and 9 test (subject to change).
    #6-Mark Martin, #38-Elliott Sadler, #99-Carl Edwards, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #15-Michael Waltrip, #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #29-Kevin Harvick, #30-Jeff Burton, #49-Ken Schrader, #59-Klaus Graf, #42-Jamie McMurray, #41-Casey Mears, #11-J.J. Yeley, #18-Bobby Labonte, #20-Tony Stewart and #06-Travis Kvapil
    Unofficial times and speeds for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing November 3 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway:
    1. 17- Matt Kenseth- 31.04 sec, 174.194 mph
    2. 45- Kyle Petty- 31.10 sec, 173.633 mph
    3. 97- Kurt Busch- 31.25 sec, 173.054 mph
    (HMS PR)(11-4-2004)
  • Hermie Sadler to Pilot Treasure Island-Las Vegas Chevy at Phoenix: For the second time this season Hermie Sadler and SCORE Motorsports are teaming up with Treasure Island-Las Vegas; this time for the Checker Auto Parts 500 this Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. Sadler previously carried the TI colors in the Sam’s Town 300 Busch Series race in Las Vegas this past March. Treasure Island is located on the Las Vegas Strip and has 2,885 guest rooms, including over 200 suites. The hotel is known for entertaining guests with its Cirque du Soleil’s Myste’re show as well as The Sirens of TI. For more information on TI, please visitwww.treasureisland.com.(Sadler Motorsports PR)(11-4-2004)
  • Gillette Young Guns – Weekly Update: By picking Jimmie Johnson as the top Gillette Young Gun finisher in the Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 31st, Heather T. of Canton, OH was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Heather picked Johnson as the highest finishing Young Gun by going to www.gilletteyoungguns.com and 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 Johnson. This is the 11th time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Johnson.
    The Gillette Young Guns are 19 for 33 in the win column so far in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Jimmie Johnson now has seven victories; Dale Earnhardt Jr. has five victories, followed by Kurt Busch with three victories, and Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman, who each have two victories. For 29 of the 33 races run in 2004, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings have been led by four members of the Gillette Young Guns. While Kurt Busch has currently led for seven weeks, fellow Young Gun Dale Earnhardt Jr. led for 10 weeks overall and Jimmie Johnson led for nine weeks. Busch’s Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth also led for four weeks.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-4-2004)
  • Helton to attend historic SAE Conference: NASCAR president Mike Helton is among the noted participants for the 2004 SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference & Exhibition in Dearborn, Mich., this fall. Held from Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn, the event focuses on high-performance technology in the racing industry. Particularly significant is the executive business panel on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Geared toward the theme of “Change for Relevance,” the panel will bring together – for the first time – the heads of the racing industry’s top sanctioning bodies: Max Mosley (FIA, Formula One’s global sanctioning body), Helton (NASCAR), Tony George (Indy Racing League), Tom Compton (National Hot Rod Association) and Steve Johnson (Sports Car Club of America). All five executives will discuss challenges and topics relevant to the current industry, including cost control, maintaining a competitive product, safety advances and the business of racing.(NASCAR PR)(11-4-2004)
  • Bass Pro Shops Sweepstakes Winner: Jimmie Johnson led only 17 of the 325 laps at Bass Pro Shops/MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this past Sunday, but one of those 17 was the one that counted ? the last one! When Johnson crossed the finish line, he also made Danny and Irma Davis of Guyton, Georgia the winners of the Grand Prize, worth $100,000, in Bass Pro Shops “The Ultimate Outdoorsman Package” sweepstakes. Danny felt pretty lucky even before he won the Grand Prize. He was one of 11 Bass Pro Shops customers to win a trip for two to the Bass Pro Shops/MBNA Atlanta 500. The 11 winners knew that one of them was guaranteed to win the $100,000 prize if the driver they drew from a list of top 10 points leaders among Nextel drivers won the race. One of the pieces of paper said “field”, meaning if any of the drivers other than the top 10 won the race, whomever drew that one would then be the winner of the prize. He also was feeling pretty lucky he had drawn Jimmie Johnson’s name since he had won the last two Nextel races and was shooting for his third win in a row. When Mark Martin was leading 227 of the laps, Danny thought his luck might have run out but Johnson beat Martin to the finish line by 0.293 seconds to make Danny and his wife Irma the big winners. Davis, as well as his kids and grandkids, will find plenty of uses for the Grand Prize consisting of a $30,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree, a 2005 Toyota double cab Tundra, a 2005 Tracker Pro Team 175 aluminum boat with motor and trailer, Big Cedar Lodge vacation package, and Arctic Cat model 650 ATV.(Bass Pro Shops PR)(11-4-2004)


    November 3, 2004

  • NASCAR Nation in? FSN’s Totally NASCAR out in 2005? Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports that Speed Channel is planning to launch an hourlong show called “NASCAR Nation” to run Monday through Thursday nights next year. The story says Fox Sports’ “Totally NASCAR” will be discontinued. Speed Channel is expected to spend as much as $10 million on production over 40 weeks on the show.(NASCAR Scene)(11-3-2004)
  • Johnson has three straight: #48-Jimmie Johnson has three straight wins, the last driver to do that was Jeff Gordon, about six years ago when Gordon won the two 1998 season enders at Rockingham and Atlanta and the 1999 season opener at Daytona. Gordon is also the last driver to win four races in a row, also in 1998 when he won at Pocono, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen and Michigan.(11-1-2004)
    THE LIST: Drivers in NASCAR’s top series who have won three or more consecutive races in a season since the modern era began in 1972:
    1972 Bobby Allison Bristol, Trenton, Atlanta
    1973 David Pearson Darlington, Martinsville, Talladega
    1974 Richard Petty(X) Atlanta, Pocono, Talladega
    1975 Richard Petty(X) Bristol, Atlanta, North Wilkesboro
    1976 Cale Yarborough(X)(4) Richmond, Dover, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro
    1976 David Pearson Charlotte, Riverside, Michigan
    1981 Darrell Waltrip(X)(4) Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Rockingham
    1983 Bobby Allison(X) Darlington, Richmond, Dover
    1987 Dale Earnhardt(X) Bristol, Darlington, Richmond
    1987 Dale Earnhardt(X)(4) Darlington, North Wilkesboro, Bristol, Martinsville
    1988 Rusty Wallace Charlotte, North Wilkesboro, Rockingham
    1991 Harry Gant(4) Darlington, Richmond, Dover, Martinsville
    1992 Bill Elliott(4) Rockingham, Richmond, Atlanta, Darlington
    1993 Mark Martin(4) Watkins Glen, Brooklyn, Bristol, Darlington
    1993 Rusty Wallace Bristol, North Wilkesboro, Martinsville
    1994 Rusty Wallace Dover, Pocono, Michigan
    1996 Jeff Gordon Dover, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro
    1998 Jeff Gordon(X)(4) Pocono, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Michigan
    1998-1999 Jeff Gordon Rockingham, Atlanta, Daytona (1999)
    2004 Jimmie Johnson Charlotte, Martinsville, Atlanta
    (odd note: Ryan Newman has won the pole for all three races Johnson won)
    (X = won the Cup Championship)(11-3-2004)
  • Geoffrey Bodine to attempt Phoenix: GIC Mixon Motorsports says it will give Jason Jefferson a chance to make his Busch Series debut this weekend in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Jefferson, a native of Yakima, Wash., who has competed in a number of NASCAR’s regional racing series, will drive the team’s No. 24 Chevrolet with a one-race sponsorship deal from Yakama Nation Legends Tribal Gaming. The team will also enter its #93 Chevrolet for Steve Grissom in Saturday’s Busch Series race and a #93 Chevrolet for Geoffrey Bodine in Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 Nextel Cup race.(NASCAR Scene)(11-3-2004)
  • Some Awards Being Clinched: Three races remain on the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule, yet two drivers have clinched separate season-ending contingency awards. Last week’s victory at Atlanta – his third straight – allowed Jimmie Johnson to clinch the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Favorite Driver of the Year Award. It goes to the highest-finishing eligible driver at the end of each event, and the driver who wins it most often during the year collects $75,000 at season’s end. Johnson has won the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Favorite Driver of the Year Award 11 times this season. He’s also the defending 2003 year-end winner.
    #24-Jeff Gordon has clinched the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award, given to the driver who wins the weekly award most often during the season. After each race, the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award goes to the driver who turns the fastest lap while leading an event. To date, Gordon has won the weekly award seven times this year. He’ll collect $75,000 at season’s end. Both the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Favorite Driver of the Year Award and the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award will be presented during the Myers Brothers Award Breakfast on Friday morning, Dec. 3, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York – site of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet that evening.(NASCAR PR)(11-3-2004)
  • Gaughan Speaks: Brendan Gaughan says he “doesn’t really care anymore” about behind-the-scenes maneuvering at Penske-Jasper Motorsports, and is concentrating on the next three races. Asked about Penske Racing’s decision to field a fourth car at Martinsville and Atlanta for former Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, Gaughan told MRN Radio/Sirius Speedway’s Dave Moody that the situation is frustrating. “Stuff we’ve been asking for all season and not getting, all of a sudden they’ve got it,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it, and I really don’t care anymore. All I can do is take what they give me and do my best with it, and the last couple of weeks, it’s been pretty good.” Gaughan declined to comment on rumors that he has spoken with Haas CNC Racing about replacing Ward Burton next season, saying, “If other people are looking at me and liking what they see, I’m flattered. But right now, I’m focused on the last three races of the season. After that, we’ll worry about what comes next.”(MRN Radio/Sirius Speedway)(11-3-2004)
  • Chevy takes the lead: #48-Jimmie Johnson’s Atlanta victory marks the 554th all-time NASCAR Cup victory for Chevrolet since 1949, more than any other manufacturer in the history of the sport. One more then Ford. See the list on my 2004 Manufacturers Championship page.(11-3-2004)
  • Newman to run contest scheme: The #12 ALLTEL Dodge of Ryan Newman will run a special paint scheme this weekend at Phoenix promoting ALLTEL’s “TXT2Win MVP Sweepstakes” from Motorola. A $1 million prize will be awarded to one of five winners selected to attend Super Bowl XXXIX in ALLTEL Stadium at Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005. For more information, please visit www.txt2winmvp.com.(Penske Racing PR)(11-3-2004)
  • Family Feud Date Changed: NASCAR and Family Feud have teamed up to create a week of special NASCAR-themed game play. NASCAR drivers – representing NASCAR’s top three competition series – will lead their NASCAR families – made up of crew chiefs, pit crew members, family members, and more – in the ‘Survey Says!’ game show format to benefit their favorite charities. Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ is scheduled to air the week of November 15-19 [was Nov 8-12]. Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ participating drivers and the charities they will be playing for are: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #0 Net Zero HiSpeed Chevrolet Ward Burton for The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation; NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Kevin Harvick for Victory Junction Gang Camp; NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Driver of the #22 Toyota Tundra Toyota Bill Lester for Urban Youth Racing School; NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #40 Coor’s Light Dodge Sterling Marlin for Boys and Girls Club of Nashville; NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Jeremy Mayfield for Victory Junction Gang Camp; NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #41 Target Dodge Casey Mears for Target House; NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver of the #38 M&M’s Ford Elliot Sadler for Autism Society of America; and, NASCAR Busch Series Driver of the #23 Stacker 2 Chevrolet Kenny Wallace for Autism Society of America.(Family Feud Site)(11-3-2004)
  • Knaus Wins WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: Jimmy Johnson may not have dominated the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, but his crew chief, Chad Knaus, made all the right moves to get him in Victory Lane. When a late race caution flag left everyone guessing whether to pit or stay out, Knaus chose wisely, electing to give his driver fresh tires for the final sprint. The leader was a sitting duck for Johnson, who cruised on to victory, taking his third checkered flag in a row. The race fans rewarded Knaus’ performance, voting him the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Over 75% of the fans who voted on www.WYPALL.com thought Knaus’ was the easy choice for the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. “When it came crunch time, he made the right choice,” said race fan John Damian. “Mark Martin led the whole race, but Knaus put Johnson out front when it mattered most.”
    “When a caution flies at the end of the race, you only have a spilt second to decide if you want to pit or not,” said WYPALL Wipers spokesman Robbie Reiser. “Chad (Knaus) took a gamble deciding to pit. If there’s only a few laps left, it’s tough to make up the track position you lost going into the pits, even if you do have fresh tires. Chad made it work, though. Jimmy (Johnson) took off and won the race. Chad deserved to win the award for making the tough call.” Tony Eury, Sr. remains in first place with nine wins. Chad Knaus moves into second place with five wins. Tommy Baldwin and Robbie Loomis are tied for third place with four wins. Robbie Reiser and Matt Borland are in fourth place with two wins. Pat Tryson, Larry Carter, Lee McCall, Donnie Wingo, Phillipe Lopez, Ryan Pemberton, Tony Glover and Pete Rondeau are tied for fifth place, each with one win. The crew chief with the most weekly wins at the end of the season will be named WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and receive $10,000.00.(S.M.C. 500 PR)(11-3-2004)
  • Temp Crew Chief for Robby at Phoenix…for a good reason: #31 RCR Crew Chief Chris Andrews will not be in Phoenix this weekend because he will be home with his expectant wife, anticipating the arrival of their first born. Substituting for Andrews will be Team Cingular engineer Greg Erwin. Erwin joined the Cingular team in August and has been a multi-team engineer at RCR since December 2002. Before coming to RCR, Erwin, of Mooresville, N.C., worked with Ganassi Racing, Team Sabco, and Diamond Ridge Motorsports. Andrews will be back with the team next weekend at Darlington Raceway.(RCR PR)(11-3-2004)
  • Robby Testing at Baja: Robby Gordon flew directly from Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night to San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico, to prepare to pre-run the course for the 2004 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 in his sand car. He ran the course Monday and Tuesday with Greg Till, his co-driver for the Baja 1000. The duo drove from San Felipe to Loreto. Gordon will compete in the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, coming up November 17 – 21, racing in the #31 Red Bull Trophy Truck. Last month, Gordon drew to start eighth in the legendary off-road race. He plans to run the majority of the race, but will have to hand over the wheel to Steve Barlow, so he can head to Homestead, Fla., to compete in the final NASCAR Cup and Busch races of the season. To learn more about the 37th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, go to www.score-international.com.(RCR PR)(11-3-2004)


    November 2, 2004

  • Sad News: Erin Carleton Browning, the 10-year-old daughter of Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning, died Monday after a long battle with bone cancer. Erin was diagnosed with the disease three years ago. Her father, Chris, was named the track’s president this past May to replace Andrew Gurtis. Browning had been at North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham since 1992. He assumed the new position after the track, known as “The Rock,” was taken off the next year’s Nextel Cup schedule. Darlington is preparing to hold the Southern 500 in two weeks, the next-to-last event in NASCAR’s 10-race championship chase. Mac Josey, Darlington vice president, will run day-to-day operations while Browning is away. Funeral services for Erin will be Wednesday in High Point, N.C.
    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Erin Browning be made to the following:
    – Victory Junction Gang Camp, 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, N.C., 27317.
    – Hospice and Palliative Care Center, 1100-C South Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103.(ThatsRacin.com/AP and see her site at prayforerin.tripod.com)(11-2-2004)
  • Rusty to be fined? UPDATE Yep: NASCAR officials confirmed Sunday they plan to penalize Nextel Cup driver #2-Rusty Wallace for an incident following last Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Wallace is expected to receive a monetary penalty as early as Monday, sources said. Fines for similar incidents in the past have ranged from $5,000 to $10,000. Penske Racing South teammates Ryan Newman and Wallace traded bumps while battling for second place, which sent Wallace to the outside lane, on Lap 494 of 500 of last Sunday’s Subway 500. After the “cool down” lap, Newman, who finished third, drove onto pit road where the top-five cars are required to stop. Wallace followed Newman down and appeared to hit the rear of Newman’s #12 Altell Dodge.(ThatsRacin.com)(10-31-2004)
    UPDATE: Driver Rusty Wallace was fined $10,000 for his role in an incident at the conclusion of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race held Oct. 24 at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. Wallace, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing South, was penalized for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book when he made deliberate contact with the #12 Alltel car of Ryan Newman as the field returned to pit lane following the conclusion of the race.(NASCAR PR)(11-2-2004)
  • Three Fined for Infractions: Three others were issued penalties for equipment infractions at Martinsville. Gil Martin, crew chief for the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet of driver Robby Gordon, and co-crew chief Chris Andrews will share in a $10,000 fine for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-W (Improperly attached weight) of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book.
    Mario Gosselin, driver of the #80 Hover Motorsports Ford, was fined $500 for violating Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-17.1B (3) for an expired manufacturer’s date on his driver’s head-and-neck restraint device.(NASCAR PR)(11-2-2004)
  • First Woman wins a WoO race: Erin Crocker became the first woman to win a World of Outlaws feature Friday night when she won at Thunder Bowl Raceway in California. Crocker is a 23-year-old driver from Massachusetts.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-2-2004)
  • Kahne going for the record: with 3 races left, #9-Kasey Kahne is chasing NASCAR’s modern-era record for top-five finishes by a rookie driver. Kahne is one of only five drivers to have scored 10 or more top-five finishes this season.
    Most top fives by a Cup series rookie (1972-2004)
    14 by Ryan Newman in 2002, 36 races [38%]
    12 by Tony Stewart in 1999, 34 races [35%]
    11 by Dale Earnhardt in 1979, ran 27 of 31 races [41%]
    11 by Kasey Kahne in 2004 after 33 races [33%]
    9 by Davey Allison in 1987, 22 of 29 races [41%](11-2-2004)
  • Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper to sponsor Evernham Motorsports: In their continued quest for high performance, aftermarket auto parts giant Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper has inked its first NASCAR deal as associate sponsor of Evernham Motorsports and includes primary status on the #91 Dodge in the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and on the #79 Dodge in the NASCAR Busch Series. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper is the first aftermarket auto parts distribution network to partner with Evernham Motorsports. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s partnership with Evernham Motorsports is a multi-faceted marketing program. The automotive aftermarket brands take the lead with the primary sponsorship of the #91 Dodge in 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup races at Michigan International Speedway on August 25, 2005, and Texas Motor Speedway International on November 6, 2005. Veteran racer and former NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Bill Elliott will drive the #91 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Dodge. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper will be an associate sponsor of the #91 Dodge for all other races in 2005 and will receive branding on Elliott’s uniform, team haulers and pit equipment. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s partnership with Evernham Motorsports also includes primary sponsorship of the #79 Dodge. In the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series, Kasey Kahne will drive the #79 Dodge at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 16, 2005 and teammate and NEXTEL Chase contender, Jeremy Mayfield, will take the wheel at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on October 14, 2005. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s association with Evernham also will be used in key customer outreach efforts, retail marketing efforts and internal promotions. The affiliation will compliment Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s existing partnership with NASCAR and its new NASCAR Performance Network program, a branding and locator platform associating Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s parts stores or service centers with NASCAR’s 75 million fans.(Clear!Blue PR)(11-2-2004)
  • K-Teck Chassis Development recieves NASCAR approval: Previously doing business as a chassis repair shop, K-Teck Chassis Development received its final approval to build new chassis from NASCAR chassis inspector Randy Hedger on 26 Oct 2004. K-Teck Chassis Development is owned by Ray Kilgore, who offers his nearly 20 years experience as a fabricator and chassis builder to the public. “For years all I have wanted is to be an approved chassis builder with NASCAR and now i have reached that goal.” said Kilgore. “Bud Moore taught me safety, and Gary DeHart taught me quality.” For more information on K-Teck Chassis Development go to: www.k-teckchassis.com.(11-2-2004)
  • Qualifying does well on Speed: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Qualifying from Atlanta scored a 1.10 (702,000 households), making it the seventh most watched program ever on SPEED. Combined with the replay later in the evening, qualifying coverage broke the million-household mark with a cumulative rating of 1.70 (1,082,000 households).(SC PR)(11-2-2004)
  • Speedway Children’s Charities poker tournament raises $6,859: The Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities hosted its inaugural Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004, at The Cannery Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The evening of “cards for kids” raised $6,859 for the children of southern Nevada. First prize was claimed by Rick Taylor, who won a party suite at The Orleans Arena (event to be determined), including: 30 suite tickets, exclusive access to the premium concourse level, 10 VIP parking passes and concierge service. The Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities will hold its annual Christmas Tree Lighting & Grant Distribution Ceremony at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. A total of $275,140 will be distributed to 51 local children’s causes.(LVMS PR)(11-2-2004)
  • 2nd Part teams up with #37 car: 2ndChanceRaceParts.com of Mooresville, NC, and Great Cars & Trucks of Glendale, AZ, will be joining Kevin Lepage as associate sponsors for the #37 Carter’s Dispos-all Dodge for this Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. 2nd Chance Race Parts sells high-quality, slightly used race parts from the top Nextel Cup teams to underdog, independent race teams from North Carolina to Canada to Australia. Great Cars & Trucks is a multi-faceted auto and truck dealership owned by Mark Shaffer. “We’repleased to be able to help support Kevin this weekend,” said Rick Russell, owner of 2nd Chance Race Parts. “This team has shown steadyimprovement in recent weeks, and we hope they’ll be able to continuethat trend at Phoenix.”(2nd Chance PR)(11-2-2004)



    November 1, 2004

  • Crew Chief Award Announcement UPDATE 2: WYPALL Wipers is holding a formal press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday to announce the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. Tony Eury, Sr. and Robbie Reiser will be on hand, along with Jan Spencer, president of Kimberly-Clark Professional. The winning crew chief will receive $10,000. After each event in the 2004 season, race fans have voted on www.wypall.com for the Nextel Cup crew chief that they thought did the best job. The crew chief who received the most weekly wins will be named the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.(PR), see my Pit Crew page for last weeks winner and who leads.(10-29-2004)
    UPDATE: The Fans Have Spoken….The 2004 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Of The Year Is Tony Eury Sr., Crew Chief Of The No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo. WYPALL awarded Eury Sr. with a $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice. $5,000 to the Dale Earnhardt foundation and $5,000 to the Hendrick Bone Marrow Foundation.(GM Racing)(10-30-2004)
    UPDATE 2: At the start of the 2004 season, WYPALL Wipers challenged race fans to decide one of the sport’s most heated debates – who is the best crew chief in the Nextel Cup garage? After weeks of eyeing who made the savviest calls and executed the smartest game plan, a consensus has been reached. The fans have spoken – the 2004 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year is Tony Eury, Sr. When it came to declaring the Crew Chief of the Year, WYPALL Wipers let race fans weigh in on who deserved top honors. After each race in the 2004 season, fans voted online for the Nextel Cup crew chief they thought did the best job. The crew chief with the most weekly wins was awarded the coveted title. Eury Sr. clinched the championship last weekend, after building an insurmountable lead over Tommy Baldwin, Chad Knaus and Robbie Loomis, the current second place candidates. A $10,000 donation will be made from WYPALL Wipers to the charity of Eury’s choice. No one was more proud of Eury, Sr. than his driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. “I’m proud of Tony Eury Sr. for winning the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year Award,” said Earnhardt, Jr. I’m glad to see the fans know what I’ve known for years – Tony is the BEST!”
    “The whole program has been a tremendous success,” said Jan Spencer, President of Kimberly-Clark Professional. “We’re thrilled with the results of the inaugural WYPALL Wiper’s Crew Chief Challenge. Hundreds of race fans have logged onto our website each week. They’ve been very enthusiastic throughout the whole season. WYPALL Wipers is pleased to have one of the spokesmen that we chose win the entire challenge. We know that Tony (Eury Sr.) will do a wonderful job representing us as a champion on and off the track.” The WYPALL Wiper Crew Chief Challenge will continue in 2005, starting at the Daytona 500 in February. For more information, log onto www.WYPALL.com.(PR)(11-2-2004)
  • Early TV Ratings for Atlanta up but…: NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway drew a 4.2 overnight rating and a 9 share from Nielsen Media Research, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The figures represent a 40 percent increase from the 3.0/6 overnight figures in 2003, but the Daily points out that last year’s numbers cover only the 39 laps of the race run on Sunday before rain forced the rest of the event to be concluded on Monday. The rating is 5 percent higher than the 4.0 overnight rating for last week’s race at Martinsville Speedway.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-1-2004)
  • CASCAR and NASCAR delayed: CASCAR president Tony Novotny delayed an announcement that was scheduled for Oct 30th that the national stock car racing body has entered into an agreement with NASCAR. “We’ve been trying really, really hard to pull something together and hopefully we’ll have something in the next few weeks,” Novotny said. “Everybody knows we’ve been talking to them, but they move really, really slow.” It’s been speculated for almost two years that NASCAR would be buying CASCAR, which Novotny established in 1981 and is headquartered in Komoka [Canada]. CASCAR lost its flagship track, Delaware Speedway, this past season when it switched sanctioning to NASCAR and the Dodge Weekly Series. But Delaware retained its two CASCAR Super Series races. Novotny’s announcement was to have come during CASCAR’s annual awards dinner at the London Convention Centre Saturday.(London Free Press)(11-1-2004)
  • Some tracks to get new rubber in 2005: Rich Heinrich, Goodyear’s product manager for stock cars, says teams can expect new tires in 2005 for all tracks longer than New Hampshire (1.058 miles) to help compensate for the shorter spoiler the Cup cars will have. An open test will be offered to teams in January at Las Vegas and California to test the new tires. “The whole effort is to add mechanical grip to the car, which can be accomplished by changing both the compound and construction of the tires,” Heinrich says. Drivers who tested the new tires at Las Vegas, Bristol and Charlotte reported the tires improved the balance of the cars.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-1-2004)
  • Bliss or Gaughan to the #0 if Ward leaves [to BANG Racing?] Bliss and rookie Brendan Gaughan [would he go to a team not running a Dodge?] are being considered for the Haas CNC Racing #0 Chevrolet in 2005. Team owner Gene Haas says he wants to see how current driver Ward Burton performs with crew chief Bootie Barker before he makes a final decision. “We’ve given Ward three different crew chiefs; now it’s up to him,” Haas says. And put Mike Bliss’ name back on the list for the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Busch team. Although it had been reported earlier in the year that Bliss, 39, and JGR would part ways at the end of the 2004 season, he says he could return. “I think they have an ‘A’ plan, and if that falls apart, I’m the ‘B’ plan,” says Bliss.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-1-2004)
  • Staged Racial Incidents? UPDATE: A law firm representing NASCAR has accused Addison, Texas, businessman John Eckerd of helping to plan staged racial incidents at a NASCAR event this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Eckerd, whom NASCAR officials claim is a financial backer of the National Association for Minority Race Fans, disputed the claim. “This is absolutely absurd and totally baseless,” Eckerd said. “These are very serious accusations, and we will not take this lying down.” The Atlanta-based law firm of Alston & Bird accused Eckerd in a letter of conspiring with associates at Consolidated Sports Media Group, Inc., and the NAMRF to hire a white male actor to play a NASCAR fan inciting a fight with a black actor posing as a NASCAR protester. The letter claims the actors hoped to get arrested so the incident could be videotaped. The attorneys also claim an actress would falsely claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted at a NASCAR sponsored event. The letter states law enforcement officials have been notified of the plan in order to protect fans.(more at the Dallas Morning News)(10-30-2004)
    MORE: A newly formed group called the National Association for Minority Race Fans [NAMRF] said it is planning a Confederate flag exchange today before the Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but NASCAR officials believe the group has more sinister plans. Alston & Bird LLP, an Atlanta law firm representing NASCAR, sent a letter to Texas businessman John Eckerd on Wednesday accusing him of conspiring with NAMRF to plan a staged racial incident using actors who will try to get arrested. The letter also said Eckerd is helping to plan the hiring of an actress to falsely claim she had been raped or sexually assaulted at a NASCAR event. The reason is to create footage for a film project called either Dixie 500 or Jasper 500.(Miami Herald)(10-31-2004)
    UPDATE: Atlanta Motor Speedway is notoriously difficult to get into and out of, as members of the National Association of Minority Race Fans discovered on Sunday. The organization had planned to offer trade-ins in which NASCAR fans could trade Confederate for American flags. Unfortunately, no one representing the NAMRF arrived until the race was already getting under way, so there were no available fans to barter. About 70 members of the organization eventually arrived to hold a demonstration after the race’s conclusion.(Gaston Gazette)
    AND After being delayed in traffic for two hours, members of the National Association for Minority Race Fans (NAMRF) arrived at their designated area at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday to protest NASCAR’s lack of diversity. The demonstrators waited on buses until the end of the race, then assembled as race fans began streaming to the exits. The nonviolent protest lasted nearly an hour and was staged by nearly 70 African-Americans primarily in their early 20s. A planned Confederate flag swap in an adjacent campground was scratched. Holding signs which directed NASCAR and many of its sponsors to “stop supporting racism,” representatives of NAMRF attempted to hand out fliers carrying their message. Most fans ignored the group; some responded vocally or with hand gestures.((Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-1-2004)