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November 2018 News Archives


  • News from November 30, 2008

  • Logano to run Daytona ARCA race? Look for Joey Logano, scheduled to run the #20 Home Depot Toyota in 2009, to test at Dayotna in December in Venturini Motorsports ARCA car and may run the ARCA race at Daytona in February. Logano ran for Venturini Motorsports at Talladega and finished 2nd.(12-1-2008) Comment here
  • Gordon fails to finish 1st race of charity event: Rubens Barrichello won the first race of a charity karting event in Brazil on Sunday, with Michael Schumacher finishing fourth and Jeff Gordon failing to complete the event after starting in the last row. Barrichello edged Brazilian countrymen Lucas Di Grassi in the first race of the “International Challenge of the Stars”, an event organized by Formula One driver Felipe Massa. In its fourth edition, the event in southern Brazil will aid local charities and the recent victims of flooding in the region. Another race will take place later Sunday, with the driver with the most points after the two races being crowned the overall winner. Gordon, making his first trip to race in Brazil, struggled after starting in 25th place and failed to complete the race because of mechanical problems.(Denver Post/AP)(11-30-2008)
  • Clint Bowyer on Motorcycle Safety: An increase of motorcycles on the road and the fact that less than half have taken an organized rider education course, indicates a need for increased awareness of proper motorcycle safety. Clint Bowyer, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner and Shell-Pennzoil sponsored NASCAR driver, began his career as a motocross racer. He truly knows the importance of safety, both on and off the track. “One of the first things I learned when I started racing was to recognize the importance of safety. You can’t afford not to when you’re competing at top speeds with 42 other drivers all around you,” Bowyer says. “I apply the same philosophy in my personal life. Whether I’m going tire-to-tire on the race track or cruising the highway on my Harley, safety is always a priority.”
    Motorcyclists can apply Bowyer’s safety philosophy to their own lives by following these simple tips:
    1. Prepare – Wear appropriate gear for comfort and protection (eye wear, helmet, long pants, jacket, boots).
    2. Be seen – Stand out. Wear bright colors and use retro-reflective material.
    3. Be awake – Fatigue and drowsiness can impair a motorcyclist’s ability to react, so be alert.
    4. Be courteous – Be considerate on the road; show respect and civility.
    5. Plan – Have your route and stops set in advance to ensure a safer ride.
    6. Inspect – Conduct a safety inspection of your motorcycle before each ride. T-CLOCS is an easy way to remember what to inspect. Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Sidestand.
    Bowyer isn’t alone in noticing the need for motorcycle safety awareness. Harley-Davidson not only provides its riders with safety tips for the road on its Web site, but it also offers the Rider’s Edge New Rider Course, which has trained more than 140,000 students since the program’s inception in 2000. Additionally, the Harley-Davidson Ride Planner version 2.0 provides an interactive Web-based tool that enables riders to map out a safe route before even leaving the garage. Motorcyclists can plot points of interest and amenities along any route. Ride Planner even highlights more than 14,000 Shell stations across the U.S., helping to ensure that riders won’t be stranded by the side of the road on “empty” with no quality gasoline in sight. According to Bowyer, when it comes to safety, motorcyclists shouldn’t “skimp.”
    “I wouldn’t buy any bargain-basement helmet or cheap riding gear and I don’t put discount gasoline in my tank. I want my Harley to perform like it was built to, so I always use a quality premium gasoline, like Shell V-Power.” Using proper motorcycle safety on and off the road creates a safer environment for motorcyclists. Being aware and recognizing the different steps you can take to become a safer driver will ensure not only your safety, but also the safety of others. The more educated you are, the safer your ride.(Carteret News Times/ARAContent)(11-30-2008)
  • Latest news on Edwards injured USAC driver: From Cameron Dodson.com: “After responding to familiar voices and briefly opening his eyes on multiple occasions over the last 48 hours, we are thrilled to report that Cameron [drives for Carl Edwards’ USAC team] regained consciousness this afternoon,” stated Michelle Petroff from Dodson’s representing agency – Rising Star Management Group. “He was able to respond physically to multiple verbal commands and showed the ability to move and sense pain so this is remarkable news just 10 days after his accident. The progress that Cameron has already made defies all odds but is a credit to the medical staff caring for him, support of his family, his determination and personal fortitude. Please continue to send positive wishes and encouraging messages of strength and, again, thank you.” More info at camerondodson.com.(11-30-2008)


    News from November 29, 2008

  • Hornish given ‘vote of confidence’: Former Penske Racing open-wheel driver Sam Hornish Jr. has the team’s full support in his second full season of Sprint Cup racing next year. Hornish, a three-time IndyCar Series champion and winner of the 2006 Indy 500, struggled this season in the #77 Dodge Charger in his rookie Cup year, finishing 35th in points and failing to qualify for the final race at Homestead. It was rumored he might even return to IndyCar. But Penske Racing spokesman Bud Denker said Hornish, who will have Mobil 1 and AAA sponsorship on his Dodge in 2009, would play a pivotal part in the Cup campaign with fellow Penske drivers #2-Kurt Busch and #12-David Stremme, who replaces Ryan Newman. “We’re absolutely committed to Sam,” Denker said. “We’re behind him and are blessed to have sponsorship from Mobil and AAA. We are very committed to Sam and expect him to do well.”(Detorit Free Press)(11-28-2008) Comment here


    News from November 28, 2008

  • Richert looking: hearing that championship crew chief [Dale Earnhardt 1980], recently crew chief for Mike Skinner in the Truck Series will not be back with Skinner at Bill Davis Racing and is looking for a crew chief job.(11-28-2008)
  • Blaney’s career is up in the air…BDR layoffs: Dave Blaney knows he’ll be involved in racing in some capacity in 2009, but that’s speaking in general terms. It could be in NASCAR Sprint, Nationwide or Trucks series or it could be as overseer of his 14-year-old son’s super late-model short-track activities. Following the last of 36 Sprint Cup races at Homestead Miami Speedway on Nov. 16, the Hartford native reflected on the 2008 season, but, more painfully, gazed into auto racing’s crystal ball. “I’m ready for a break,” said Blaney, who finished 31st in the owners’ points standings. “I’m glad it’s over.” The uncertainty of his place in NASCAR’s top tier is utmost on his mind. “It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen,” Blaney said of the status of Bill Davis Racing’s No. 22 team, which, following Homestead, laid off most of its employees. “The 22 team is kind of up in the air. It doesn’t have sponsorship for 2009.” If it sounds like the end, that’s understandable, but the door doesn’t appear to have closed completely. Blaney said he’d consider the second-tier Nationwide series or Craftsman [Trucks]. “I’d love to run Nationwide or Trucks with a really competitive team. That would be fun. If not, I’ll will look at racing somewhere else. My son is having fun racing, so I could see myself going with him.” Not only has the #22 team shifted into slow gear, but it’s gone into hibernation. “It’s uncertain if it’ll get a sponsor,” Blaney said. In a media release dated Nov. 14, BDR crew chief and competition director Tommy Baldwin said there will be a full staff preparing for the start of the 2009 season. With his one-year contract with BDR expired, Blaney is officially a free agent. “I’m open for next year. I’d stay with the 22 if I’m asked back or I’d look at any other options, but there aren’t a lot of options out there.”(The Vindicator)(11-28-2008) Comment here
  • NCMA Initiate “Motorsports Employment Task Force” The motorsports industry is not immune to the current economic downturn. Nearly all race teams in the industry have made some level of cutbacks. It is estimated that upwards of 700 jobs have been lost in recent weeks and its possible the lay-offs will continue into 2009. Initiated by Humpy Wheeler and administered by the North Carolina Motorsports Association a Motorsports Employment Task Force was developed to address the job loss issues. A meeting was convened last Friday. Attendees of the initial meeting included associates from NASCAR, the NC Legislature, Centralina Workforce Development Board, Career Transition Consultants, NC Biotech Center, NASCAR Technical Institute, Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports, NC-Community College Motorsports Consortium, Belmont Abbey College, Compass Career Management, The Wheeler Company and The NCMA. The group discussed ways to immediately provide support and information to current displaced workers. In addition the Task Force discussed plans for a promotional campaign to other industries that would showcase the skills and benefits to hiring someone from the Motorsports Industry. For Humpy Wheeler this situation is not new. He’s seen this before in the 70’s and 80’s. But his concern in this cycle is that the numbers are much larger. “In the 70’s and 80’s I think it was even worse economically, but teams were much smaller then,” said Wheeler at the Task Force meeting. “Some teams back then were letting go 50% or more of crew members. But that was only 5 or 6 people. Today cut backs might be less percentage of the team, but could equal dozens per organization.”
    The newly formed Motorsports Employment Task Force is working towards the development of a central clearing house that will support displaced workers with information and steps to guide them in their sudden career path changes. It also will provide potential employers information and access about the benefits of hiring from the industry. The group is currently developing an immediate plan of action along with a long term plan to support future workforce changes. All at the meeting expressed the urgency of taking some level of action immediately.(more at North Carolina Motorsports Association PR), see more ways to get help and ideas on my Racing Jobs/Schools page.(11-28-2008) Comment here


    News from November 27, 2008

  • Stewart and Sirius Radio announced nominees for 2nd Annual ‘Stewie Awards’ Sirius XM Radio and two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart, announced the nominees for the second annual ‘Stewie Awards,’ honoring the best, boldest and funniest moments of the 2008 NASCAR season. The ‘Stewies’ will be awarded during a special broadcast of Tony Stewart Live, the weekly talk show hosted by Stewart and Matt Yocum, at SIRIUS XM Radio’s New York City studios on Thursday, December 4 (6:00 – 8:00 pm/et) during 2008 NASCAR Champions Week. The live broadcast will air nationwide on Sirius NASCAR Radio, available on SIRIUS channel 128 and on XM channel 128 with the “Best of SIRIUS” programming package. “After seeing the tears of joy stream down Kevin Harvick’s face after handing him his ‘Stewie’ for ‘Best Original Drama’ last year we knew that, while it would be tough to top last year’s event, the show must go on,” said Stewart. ”So we’re excited to be back for year two to celebrate all the great people and performances from the 2008 season. It’ll be a great way to cap off the season and we’ll have a lot of fun with our guests and our listeners on SIRIUS and XM.” The 2008 Stewie Award winners will be determined by fans around the country who cast their votes online at www.sirius.com/stewieawards. “Once again the fans, who are such a big part of Tony Stewart Live throughout the year, can get involved by voting in the award winners,” said Stewart. “And so, without further ado, the nominees for the 2008 Stewie Awards are…” see the full list on my Awards Page – Stewie Awards section.(SIRIUS XM Radio PR)(11-27-2008)Comment here
  • Johnson helps push sales up: NASCAR fans across the country are celebrating Jimmie Johnson’s third straight Sprint Cup Championship in record fashion, as sales of his championship merchandise on the NASCAR.com Superstore are up 44% over 2007. In addition to the strong fan reaction on NASCAR.com, the Racing Collectables Club of America (RCCA), the premier club for motorsports fans and collectors, has also experienced a wave of enthusiasm for everything and anything related to Johnson and the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team. In fact, RCCA championship product sales are up 137% over last year when Johnson captured his second consecutive Cup crown. Shortly after Johnson crossed the finish line in Miami in his #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Motorsports Authentics, through its Chase Authentics and Action Racing Collectables brands, went to market with a full array of licensed products commemorating Johnson’s record-tying third straight Sprint Cup Championship. Mark Dyer, president and CEO of Motorsports Authentics, was pleased with the numbers, though not entirely surprised, given the historical significance of Johnson’s victory. “Jimmie has been one of the most popular drivers in the sport with strong merchandise sales, especially given his relatively short tenure in NASCAR,” Dyer said. “I think collectors and fans recognize the amazing feat he’s accomplished and are getting behind him to show their support. They know his memorabilia from this third championship will ultimately be quite valuable in the marketplace and they want to be a part of the excitement.” All 2008 Championship apparel and die-cast collectables are available at the NASCAR.com Superstore and rccamembers.com. Fans can also visit Motorsports Authentics authorized dealers across the country to learn more about these products. To find a local dealer, visit goracing.com and click on the dealer locator at the bottom of the page.(Motorsports Authentics PR)(11-27-2008)


    News from November 26, 2008

  • added some more 2009 schemes:
    #33 Cheerios, #31 Caterpillar, #29 Reeses, see my Paint Schemes Gallery.(11-26-2008)
  • Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull UPDATE 2 new crew chief?: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton’s official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: #44-David Reutimann [will be back in #00 in 2009], who finished 22nd in points in his second full Sprint Cup season and won the pole in the finale at Homestead, is short a crew chief and a half-season’s worth of sponsorship on his Toyota for next season. He also is unlikely to run a third straight full Nationwide season because of sponsorship issues. Reutimann said a replacement for (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton, who said late in the season he was leaving for Red Bull, could be announced next week. “You would like to get somebody in there because Ryan decided to do his deal so late in the season it doesn’t give you much opportunity to talk with people,” Reutimann said. “You know your crew chief is leaving halfway through the year, you can start talking to people who are interested in doing something different. He just didn’t give us that option.”(St Petersburg Times)(11-23-2008)
    UPDATE 2: hearing former #19 GEM crew chief, Rodney Childers, will be Reutimann’s crew chief in 2009.(11-26-2008) Comment here
  • Motorsports Artist Garry Hill Featured On NASCAR Partners: Noted Motorsports artist Garry Hill is profiled on NASCAR Partners. Hill has been creating original paintings, limited edition fine art prints and graphic design for the motorsports community for the better part of thirty years. His artworks celebrate and commemorate the history of racing and many of his limited edition prints are autographed by the sport’s greatest drivers and legends. As the holiday season approaches check out Garry’s artworks in mind for that speed enthusiast on your shopping list. For additional information please visit www.garryhill.com. To see Garry’s profile on the NASCAR Partners website Click Here to see the full story.(11-26-2008)
  • Baldwin remains positive for 2009 with BDR:Considering the amount of uncertainty at Bill Davis Racing concerning its future in NASCAR, crew chief and competition director Tommy Baldwin is doing his best to remain positive for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. Although BDR’s driver Dave Blaney was able to keep the #22 Caterpillar/Bill Davis Racing Toyota in the top 35 in owner points, finishing the 2008 season 30th, the team is currently without a primary sponsor for 2009. “It’s disappointing; you feel helpless,” said Baldwin, about the sponsor trouble at BDR. “I think we are going to go through a transitional period here so we can move forward. It’s been pretty hard. We only have so many guys in the shop, and we’ve had to play catch up the whole year. We’re in the top 35, and we can’t complain about that. There are teams more heavily funded that are behind us. We can’t really complain for the most part. Do we want to run better? Of course we do. But these are the circumstances we’ve been dealt with, and we need to keep fighting.”(SceneDaily)(11-26-2008) Comment here
  • Edwards wins 4th Qtr Driver of the Year award: #99-Carl Edwards, who narrowly missed winning two NASCAR championships in the same year, was voted 4th quarter Driver of the Year 2008. In the voting period Edwards won three Sprint Cup races and had only two finishes worse than top four. Additionally he won three Nationwide races in the final quarter. You could say he threw everything he had at those championships, and in one race, at Kansas City, he literally threw his Roush Racing Ford in the wall in an effort to get past Jimmie Johnson the eventual race winner and Cup Champion. He was also the fourth quarter winner in 2005. Barry Schmoyer, President of the Driver of the Year Foundation, said “Carl made the final run to both championships exciting. He’s the perfect example of an athlete who never gave up and I think the panel recognized that.” In the voting Edwards took ten first-place ballots and received votes from the entire panel. With 128 points he beat Jimmie Johnson. Johnson, the reigning Sprint Cup Champion and the 2006 & 2007 Driver of the Year, received seven first-place votes and totaled 74 points. Tony Schumacher, NHRA’s Top Fuel Champion and winner of the 3rd quarter Driver of the Year 2008, received one first-place vote and totaled 79 points. Cruz Pedregon, the NHRA’s Funny Car Champion this year, was fourth in the voting with one first place vote. A total of 14 eligible drivers scored points in the fourth quarter voting. In its’ 42nd year, the Driver of the Year title is unique. A panel of 18 leading broadcasters and journalists from across the U.S. determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4,3,2,1 basis. Edwards will receive a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch to be presented at a later date.(DOTY PR)(11-26-2008) Comment here
  • Thanksgiving Day/Weekend special races: On Thanksgiving evening Thursday, November 27 with the 68th Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix presented by Agajanian Promotions will take place at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The last major event of the season on the United States Motorsports and Toyota Speedway calendars, the Turkey Night Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the racing season for local racing fans and for those fans traveling from all over the country to attend the event as evidenced by the number of motor homes parked at the Speedway the week of the event. The event is expected to attract USAC’s top Midget and Sprint car drivers as well as guest drivers from NASCAR [Bobby East, Btyan Clauson, Jason Leffler, Bobby Santos, Kasey Kahne, Josh Wise, P.J. Jones, ]. More info at Toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com.
    Wall Turkey Derby XXXV on for Nov. 28-29: There will be a Turkey Derby XXXV at Wall Township Speedway Nov. 28-29. WTS’s General Partners have made a agreement with its Operations Manager, Jim Morton, to reopen the 57-year-old banked paved one-third-mile oval for as many as six dates in November. The first three dates are for practice sessions leading up to the post-Thanksgiving Day classic with Nov. 30 set aside as a rain date. Turkey Derby XXXV format, racing divisions and other details are to be posted on www.wallspeedway.com Sept. 7. The agreement allows a modified stock car racing tradition that Thomas and Jeannie Nicol started in 1974. Some of the best modified stock car drivers in the country have since competed against the local NASCAR Whelen All-American Series stars on the banked paved one-third mile oval. Turkey Derby XXXV is the first event on ‘Big Wall’ since Turkey Derby XXXIV was held Nov. 23-24, 2007. Details on wallspeedway.com.(PR)(11-26-2008)
  • Sad News – Colby Crooks: Colby Crooks, 33, shock specialist for Mike Skinner in the Truck Series and for Connor Cantrell Racing of California, passed away November 19th. Crooks is the son of Joe Gibbs shock specialist Ronnie Crooks [see a story about Ronnie at nascar.com](11-26-2008)


    News from November 25, 2008

  • added some more 2009 schemes:
    #20 Home Depot, #48 Kobalt, see my Paint Schemes Gallery.(11-25-2008)
  • HMS Holdings suing DEI: HMS Holdings, which operates the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop, is suing Dale Earnhardt Inc. for $1.5 million for the payment of a termination fee stemming from a contract to supply Hendrick engines to Ginn Racing. Ginn Racing, which also is a defendant in the suit filed Friday in North Carolina Superior Court, merged with DEI in July 2007. As part of the merger, DEI and Ginn Racing signed a termination agreement to a contract that was originally signed by Ginn in 2006. The termination agreement required payments to HMS of $1.754 million by July 31, 2007, and $1.5 million by Nov. 15, 2008, according to the suit. The first payment was made on time. The second payment has not been made, according to the suit. The original engine contract and termination agreement are not included in the suit, so it is unclear how much Ginn was paying to use Hendrick engines. HMS is asking for the $1.5 million, 12% interest and an additional $225,000. Hendrick Motorsports spokesman Jesse Essex said the company is looking forward to a swift resolution of the lawsuit. Dale Earnhardt Inc. Vice President John Story said the company has no comment.(SceneDaily)(11-25-2008) Comment here
  • Benny Parsons ARCA car at the NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame: The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame – ncarhof.com announced that, for a limited time, the actual #98 Ford Torino driven by Benny Parsons in the 1968 and 1969 ARCA series championships will be on display in the museum. In 1970, the car was sold to Wendell Scott, NASCAR’s first black driver, who raced the car under #34 until 1973. The car was one of two identical Ford Torinos returned to original race trim and used in the final scenes of the movie “Greased Lightning” starring Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott. This very special Ford Tornio is on loan to the Hall of Fame until May 2009, although the museum maintains an inventory of one-of-a-kind automobiles including #48 Lowe’s Chevy driven by Jimmie Johnson, #8 Budweiser Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and a #24 DuPont Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon. Said Don Miller, chairman of the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, “What makes our museum so unique is that not all of our automobiles are replicas or show cars. Many are the actual race cars that are in the same condition that they were when they left the track.” The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame is located in Lakeside Business Park in Mooresville, North Carolina. Proceeds from the NCARHOF support Stop Child Abuse Now and the annual Stocks for Tots fundraiser – Dec 9th.(NCARHOF PR)(11-25-2008)
  • Fox, ESPN look to cut race costs: Facing a discouraging ad market, Fox is talking to NASCAR and ESPN about ways the network can save money on its broadcasts of the sport next year. Fox was expected to meet with NASCAR this past week and ESPN in the coming weeks to explore potential cost cuts on the production side. Also, about 20 members of Fox’s sales and marketing team will meet at NASCAR’s New York office to talk about unique approaches that might distinguish the sport from other properties. “It’s really going to be a half-day seminar on how we can think differently, approach the market differently and provide different opportunities for advertisers,” said Paul Brooks, president of the NASCAR Media Group, from the NASCAR hauler during last week’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “What are we missing? What can we do better? We want to make sure we’re looking through all of those opportunities.” On the production side, Brooks said the sanctioning body will work with Fox to find savings as long as the viewers won’t notice a difference. “There are additional things we can look at as far as sharing and managing facilities in an even more efficient way,” Brooks said. Can broadcasters get by with 55 cameras instead of 60? Can they share a production truck over the course of a weekend instead of using multiple trucks? Those are the kinds of cuts the networks will weigh. “It’s something we’re very cognizant of,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN’s vice president of motorsports. “Every business has been affected by the economy and we’re just trying to stay ahead of those things. Our content will still be there, but we’ve got to take a closer look at how we acquire that content. Are there areas where we can be flexible?” The combined TV rights fee for Fox, ESPN and Turner averages $560 million a year through 2014. Additionally, each of the networks has a multimillion-dollar spend with NASCAR Media Group, which manages the TV compound at each venue and provides additional content, such as unique camera angles and audio.(Sports Business Journal)(11-25-2008) Comment here
  • Petty close to sports car deal: Kyle Petty took another big step towards racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and a possible full season in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sunday, testing the #45 Orbit Racing InterMedia BMW Riley at the rechristened Palm Beach International Raceway. Petty, who tested with the team at Daytona during Pirelli tire testing in October, ran more than 50 laps as he continues to make the adjustment from racing a Sprint Cup Series stock car and the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype. “Braking has been hard for me,” Petty said. “Darren tried teaching me at Daytona until I ran until I ran into the tire wall. That was pretty exciting. When I ran a few laps here I told him, first I’m not brave enough, then I get stupid, so I have to back it up and figure out where I need to be, somewhere between ‘stupid’ and ‘not brave enough.’ Learning the braking is hard.” The car was not damaged when Petty slid into an infield tire barrier during his October test session. Now, Petty is working on the final details for a move to Grand-Am. “We’re still working on it, and we’re closer to getting something together,” Petty said. “Hopefully, we’ll have something together before long that will give me a job for next year and we can win some races. I’m here at Orbit because of Rodger Hawley, let’s be clear about that. I ran a car with Orbit and Leo Hindery two or three times at Daytona. We didn’t have the greatest success in the world but we had a lot of fun. I told Rodger back then that if it ever comes to the point when I don’t have a Cup ride and I can go and do something different, I want to come here. I think this is the top road racing series in the United States, so I’m stepping from the top stock car series to the top road racing series, the Grand-Am. I’m looking at it as a lateral move to another series where there’s a ton of great drivers.”(Grand-Am.com)(11-25-2008) Comment here
  • No plans to switch more races to cable in 2009: NASCAR already has a dozen of its 36 Cup races on cable (ESPN 7 and TNT 6), with the rest being televised on over-the-air networks (Fox and ABC). That’s a mix that NASCAR likes, so don’t expect to see any more of the sport’s big events moving over to pay TV. While Speed, a News Corp.-owned network in 75 million homes, continuously lobbies for Cup races on its network, that doesn’t appear likely. It does have the Sprint All-Star Race, which is a non-points event. “We think the balance as it is today is good,” Paul Brooks, president of the NASCAR Media Group said. “We worked hard as we put our TV plans in place to ensure the greatest coverage available for the sport. … We have assurances that the balance will be there moving forward.” That doesn’t mean the lobbying will stop. Contractually, ESPN does not have the freedom to move the final 11 Cup races off ABC to ESPN. The first six Cup races of its 17-race schedule are already on ESPN.(Sports Business Journal)(11-25-2008) Comment here


    News from November 24, 2008

  • added some 2009 schemes:
    #16 3M, #43 Richard Petty Driving Experience and #5 Kellggs/Carquest, see my Paint Schemes Gallery.(11-24-2008)
  • AT&T unsure of plans: Rather than finishing with a bang, AT&T decided to go quietly without any special activation at the end of the season. AT&T executives watched their final Sprint Cup race as sponsor of Jeff Burton’s #31 car from a speedway suite over the garages. Tim McGhee, AT&T’s director of national sponsorships, said the scene was sad, “knowing that we won’t be back in the Cup series in the foreseeable future.” With Cingular’s rebranding to AT&T, the Richard Childress Racing sponsor was bumped out of the Sprint Cup Series by NASCAR and its series title sponsor, Sprint. McGhee said it remains to be seen whether AT&T will continue its substantial advertising on NASCAR broadcasts.(Sports Business Journal)(11-24-2008)Comment here
  • Sauter meets with some of our Troops: Johnny Sauter spent his weekend in Fort Bragg, NC in support of the Warriors Promise Foundation. Joined by Pro Beach Volleyball player Angie Akers, Sauter met with troops to thank them for their service on behalf of FUBAR, Sauter’s NASCAR Sprint Cup sponsor for EM Motorsports. The Warrior’s Promise Foundation is a non-profit organization with the charter of providing support to the United States military community at the grass roots level. As part of the Warriors Promise Foundation a percentage of all FUBAR sales goes to the members of military communities in need.(PR)(11-24-2008)
  • Self-Ban on testing contract? #99-Carl Edwards said a contract is circulating among teams that would impose a self-ban on testing. The deal would go beyond NASCAR’s one-year moratorium at venues that host races in the top three series. “I’ve seen a contract that was written that (owner Jack Roush) said he’s willing to sign, I’m willing to sign, that says if everyone will agree to this, then we won’t test at all,” Edwards said. “I think that’s fine. That’s great.” Edwards favors two-day race weekends, though he knows it would cost tracks a day of gate receipts even as it saves teams travel expenses. His ideal weekend is “showing up and throwing the green flag.”
    “As long as everyone does the same thing, I mean, hell, what does everyone need all this practice for?” he asked. “…This is NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. We all know how to race. We’ve all been to these tracks before. Maybe you do a deal where guys who haven’t been there before, they get a few hours of practice.”(St Petersburg Times)(11-24-2008) Comment here
  • Coleman out at Hall of Fame UPDATE: #96-Brad Coleman’s fortunes changed quickly [after leaving Baker Curb’s Nationwide Series team and planning on a Cup ride with Hall of Fame Racing]. According to Hall of Fame Racing, Coleman is now a free agent. He is no longer under contract to Hall of Fame. (ESPN.com)(11-13-2008)
    UPDATE: Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said Saturday he hopes to bring driver Brad Coleman back to the team’s Nationwide Series operation in 2009. Coleman was a part-time Gibbs driver in 2007 but left for a full-time ride with Baker Curb Racing this season. Coleman left Baker Curb for a shot at Hall of Fame Racing’s Sprint Cup ride, but that deal didn’t work out, and Coleman was on the sidelines for the latter stages of 2008. “All the non-combo events, we would love to have Brad,” Gibbs said. “We’re kinda working with [Brad’s father] Brandon, and hopefully we can work something out. Brad’s awesome to work with. We wish we could’ve kept working with him. It just didn’t work out.”(SceneDaily)(11-25-2008) Comment here
  • Latest News on the NASCAR Hall of Fame: The NASCAR Hall of Fame, scheduled to open in May 2010, includes a “ribbon” that wraps around part of the building in its design, invoking the speed of a race track. Eventually, lighting embedded in the stainless steel walls will appear to move along the curve. On a windy Friday, the skeleton of the museum and a ballroom were visible, as well as the beginnings of a bridge that will connect the Hall of Fame to the Convention Center next door. A private office building on the site is closer to completion. It is scheduled to open in the spring of 2009 and house NASCAR’s media group as well as other tenants. The $209.8 million Hall of Fame construction project – which does not include the office building – includes $195 million from the city, paid for mostly through a hotel/motel tax. Lauth Properties, a private developer, is paying $14.8 million for the parking deck. Through September, about 28 percent of the total budget had been spent, according to a monthly construction update produced by the city.(Charlotte Observer), see a slideshow at the Observer – click here and past news about the NHOF on my NASCAR Hall of Fame page.(11-24-2008) Comment here
  • Stewart’s Foundation Awards $20,000 To Indiana Racehorse Charity The charitable organization of Tony Stewart has awarded a $20,000 grant to Indianapolis-based Friends of Ferdinand, Inc. (FFI), a not-for-profit volunteer organization that works with owners and trainers at the state’s two horse tracks to identify and obtain thoroughbreds that are nearing the end of their racing careers. Funds provided by the Tony Stewart Foundation will help FFI evaluate and retrain the horses, and find new, forever homes with devoted, caring owners. More than 200 horses have been transitioned from the track into new careers as show horses, dressage competitors, pleasure and trail riders, equine therapeutic program partners, pasture mates and beloved companions. Several thoroughbreds, the first horses to be christened “Tony’s Ex-Racers,” were brought into the FFI program Nov. 17 during the annual end-of-season paddock sale at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson, Ind. Representatives of both Friends of Ferdinand and the Tony Stewart Foundation were on hand to take a look at available horses and select those destined to become “Tony’s Ex-Racers.” A total of 10 horses will be brought into the program as “Tony’s Ex-Racers” – those obtained from the Hoosier Park paddock sale, and two or three others already in line to come off the track and into FFI’s care.(IMS PR)(11-24-2008) Comment here
  • USAC driver critically injured in accident UPDATE: U.S. Auto Club driver Cameron Dodson has been critically injured in a crash along a rural Hancock County road. The 20-year-old Dodson drives for Carl Edwards’ team and was the USAC Silver Crown series rookie of the year in 2007. He won one race in four starts this year. Methodist Hospital spokesman Gene Ford said Dodson was in critical condition Wednesday evening but did not disclose the nature of the injuries. The Daily Reporter in Greenfield reported that authorities said Dodson was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car when it went off a county road into a ditch about 20 miles east of Indianapolis early Wednesday.(AP/ESPN)(11-19-2008)
    UPDATE: Injured USAC driver Cameron Dodson remained in critical condition Friday at Methodist Hospital. Dodson, a 20-year-old from Greenfield, was injured when he was ejected from his passenger car as it veered into a ditch Tuesday in Hancock County. Cards may be sent to the driver in care of Rising Star Management Group, 6199 SW Leland Ave., Des Moines, Iowa, 50321.(Indianapolis Star)(11-23-2008)
    UPDATE 2: “On this Sunday, we are fortunate to be able to report more good news about Cameron’s condition. The intracranial pressure has continued to decrease and that is a great step in showing the swelling and pressure of his brain is subsiding. This morning, the doctors were so confident in this step that they were able to remove that monitor. This will allow them to continue to proceed with other treatments. They are also adjusting medication and treatments to slowly allow his body to start controlling some of its own regulating and functions. Additionally, the preliminary stages to hopefully start the gradual process of regaining consciousness has started. Early measurements will be used to try and monitor when he is awake or asleep; so while it may seem that this process is moving slowly, he is doing well considering the condition he was admitted in. By no means is his status upgraded yet but we are all thankful for these small notches towards our goal of having Cameron healthy and back to his vibrant self. Deep thanks go out to the staff at Methodist Hospital, the greater Greenfield and Indianapolis communities, and all of his friends, sponsors, fans and fellow competitors who are sending encouraging messages of support. In the coming days, those positive words will continue to be very important so please keep them coming as we approach Thanksgiving.” Camerondodson.com.(11-24-2008)

News from November 23, 2008

  • Nicorette back with Gordon in 2009? UPDATE 2 National Guard?: When Jeff Gordon’s new DuPont paint scheme was revealed recently, Nicorette’s associate sponsorship along the lower rear quarter panels was notably missing. But that doesn’t mean Hendrick Motorsports’ relationship with the smoking cessation product is necessarily over. And even if it is, there appears to be an opportunity for another sponsor to form a marketing relationship with Gordon’s team. “Nicorette has been a valued partner of Hendrick Motorsports, and we are in the process of discussing 2009 options with them,” a Hendrick spokesperson told the [Long Island] Press. In 2008, Gordon’s car will sport Nicorette green six times as primary sponsor, including upcoming races at Atlanta and Texas. Pepsi was the primary sponsor twice in ’08. But the Hendrick rep later added, “The structure of the sponsorship will be similar to what you’ve seen the past few seasons.” Attempts to reach Lutz, Fla.-based Lighthouse Marketing, LLC, which manages Nicorette’s motorsports account, were unsuccessful. National Guard, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s co-primary sponsor, could pick up Nicorette’s former spot on the lower rear quarter panels.(Long Island Press)(10-15-2008)
    UPDATE: during Friday nights ‘For Race Fans Only’ on QVC, in which Darrell Waltrip was the special guest, the new 2009 ‘black’ DuPont car was in the studio and instead of having Nicorette on the lower rear quarter panels, it had National Guard BUT the diecast being hawked was had Nicorette instead. See images and video at QVC.com. But am hearing Nicorette is out and National Guard is in, NO word how or if this would effect the co-primary sponsorhip of Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevy.(10-18-2008)
    UPDATE: hearing that Jeff Gordon will be driving a National Guard scheme on the #24 Chevy in eight races in 2009, no word how/if this effects the National Guard sponsorship of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr..(11-23-2008) Comment here
  • Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull UPDATE: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton’s official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: #44-David Reutimann [will be back in #00 in 2009], who finished 22nd in points in his second full Sprint Cup season and won the pole in the finale at Homestead, is short a crew chief and a half-season’s worth of sponsorship on his Toyota for next season. He also is unlikely to run a third straight full Nationwide season because of sponsorship issues. Reutimann said a replacement for (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton, who said late in the season he was leaving for Red Bull, could be announced next week. “You would like to get somebody in there because Ryan decided to do his deal so late in the season it doesn’t give you much opportunity to talk with people,” Reutimann said. “You know your crew chief is leaving halfway through the year, you can start talking to people who are interested in doing something different. He just didn’t give us that option.”(St Petersburg Times)(11-23-2008)Comment here
  • Robby Gordon Gears Up for Baja UPDATE: Robby Gordon left this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series finale in Homestead and headed straight for Ensenada, Mexico to compete in the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, one of the most grueling off-road races in the world. Gordon, a three-time overall winner, hopes to pilot his #77 Monster Energy / Toyo Tires Chevy CK 1500 to his fourth victory when the race commences on Friday, November 21st. The Baja 1000 is the world’s longest non-stop and most famous desert race. This year’s race will be a challenging 631.35-mile journey around the northern Baja California peninsula, beginning and ending in Ensenada. It will be trying even to the most skilled racers as they weave their way over rocky desert landscape and mountain terrain. For a map of this year’s loop course, visit score-international.com.
    When asked about this year’s event, Gordon commented, “This year’s course is very technical, very rough and very fast, which plays right into our team’s strengths. The team has done a good job building up the reliability in our Monster Energy / Toyo Tires / 4Wheel Parts trophy truck. We’ve been in Mexico pre-running the course over the past few weeks. Having covered the course twice, I feel very confident of our chances. With the assistance of both our Off-road and NASCAR team personnel, we have a really good support staff in place. Everyone is well informed on our race strategy and goals for this week. If all goes according to plan, we should bring home our fourth overall Baja 1000 victory.”
    Pre-race activities started on Wednesday, November 19th. As a prelude to the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Gordon will participate in a media conference on Thursday at 11:30am along with other notable drivers and celebrities. Later that evening, he and his #77 Monster Energy / Toyo Tires trophy truck will appear that the AM PM store across from the navy base in downtown Ensenada from 5 to 6pm. The pre-race driver/rider briefing will be held Thursday at 7pm. The green flag will drop for the car and truck classes at approximately 10:30am on Friday. All starters will have a 31-hour time limit to finish the legendary race. Over 300,000 spectators are expected to line this year’s course to watch over 375 entries from around the world compete in the historic race. Live internet coverage will be available at www.2008SCOREBaja1000.com with a special one-hour NBC Sports special scheduled to be televised at 1pm/et on Sunday, December 14th.(RGM PR)(11-20-2008)
    UPDATE: Update 11:56pm on 11-22-2008 – Nascar Driver and Off-Road Phenom, Robby Gordon blows motor in the #77 Trophy Truck ending a long race day filled with twists and rolls.(dirtnewz.com)(11-23-2008) Comment here
  • USAC driver critically injured in accident UPDATE: U.S. Auto Club driver Cameron Dodson has been critically injured in a crash along a rural Hancock County road. The 20-year-old Dodson drives for Carl Edwards’ team and was the USAC Silver Crown series rookie of the year in 2007. He won one race in four starts this year. Methodist Hospital spokesman Gene Ford said Dodson was in critical condition Wednesday evening but did not disclose the nature of the injuries. The Daily Reporter in Greenfield reported that authorities said Dodson was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car when it went off a county road into a ditch about 20 miles east of Indianapolis early Wednesday.(AP/ESPN)(11-19-2008)
    UPDATE: Injured USAC driver Cameron Dodson remained in critical condition Friday at Methodist Hospital. Dodson, a 20-year-old from Greenfield, was injured when he was ejected from his passenger car as it veered into a ditch Tuesday in Hancock County. Cards may be sent to the driver in care of Rising Star Management Group, 6199 SW Leland Ave., Des Moines, Iowa, 50321.(Indianapolis Star)(11-23-2008)


    News from November 22, 2008

  • Hylton to attempt Daytona 500: #08-EM Motorsports announced that legendary NASCAR competitor James Hylton [2 wins, 1966 rookie of the year. 2nd in points 3 times) has teamed up with team owner John Carter to compete in the 51st annual Daytona 500 on February 15, 2009. The 74 year old Hylton made a well publicized comeback run at Daytona in 2007 which was thwarted by a faulty clutch in the Gatorade 150 qualifying event. During the race, Hylton ran as high as second, which put aside any doubts about the 1966 Rookie of the Years driving abilities. Hylton has competed in 16 Daytona 500s, with his best finish being third. In 2008, Hylton competed full-time in the ARCA RE/MAX Series as well as running in the Winn-Dixie 250 Nationwide Series race at Daytona. At age 73, Hylton set the record as the oldest driver to start a Nationwide Series event and also hopes to set the record as the oldest driver to compete in a Sprint Cup series event in February 2009.(EM Motorsports PR)(11-23-2008) Comment here
  • McCumbee not sure of 2008 plans: Despite several Internet reports that link Chad McCumbee to a full-time seat in the #44 car for Petty Enterprises next season, McCumbee said the sagging economy has changed a lot of plans. “We have to wait for sponsorship,” he said. “If we don’t have it, we can’t go racing. We’ve had some things lined up, but when companies start to struggle, NASCAR sponsorship will be the first to go.” McCumbee said he doesn’t “have an answer” to what next year will look like, but is “confident we will be able to run some,” in the Sprint Cup Series. He also said he may return to the Craftsman Truck Series. McCumbee is scheduled to run Sunday’s Seneca 250 Late Model stock car race at Myrtle Beach Speedway.(Myrtle Beach Sun News)(11-22-2008) Comment here
  • Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham announced Thursday night in Lincolnton [NC] that he is in advanced negotiations to purchase the East Lincoln Speedway and plans to retire from NASCAR. Evernham and partner Bob Mack of Cornelius-based RPM Group Holdings said they had hoped to have the keys to the speedway in their hands when they appeared at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After-Hours event to make the announcement, but were prevented from doing so as negotiations continued. Evernham said he has already sold off most of his interest in the Gillett-Evernham Motorsports race team and is ending his career with NASCAR. “I want to get back into grassroots racing,” he told the gathering of area community leaders and businesspeople. Contacted by the Times-News Friday morning, current track owner Ralph Nantz said he couldn’t “talk much about it right now,” but confirmed that “serious” negotiations with Evernham were under way. “You might say he is showing some interest,” Nantz said. The East Lincoln Speedway has been in operation since 1991 and is a 3/8 mile clay oval track.(Lincoln Times-News), no word if Evernham will be back with ESPN in 2009.(11-22-2008) Comment here
  • Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR named: In a sport filled with “colorful” fans, Deborah Gannon of Canton, Ga., claimed the title of the most colorful of them. Prior to the start of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’S Toyota, helped crown Gannon as the winner of “The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR” contest. Created by M&M’S Racing, “The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR” contest celebrates, recognizes and rewards all of the enthusiastic NASCAR fans throughout the country, regardless who they pull for at the track. From June 8-Oct. 11, 2008, NASCAR fans nationwide showcased their unmatched love for the sport by uploading their most colorful photos to NASCAR.COM. In the end, Gannon’s photo stood out from the tens of thousands of entries. “I think the people that follow NASCAR are the best fans in the world, so this truly is a great honor,” Gannon said. “Of course, the opportunity to see the season finale in Miami, as well as meet Kyle and coach [Joe] Gibbs ran a close second. It’s an experience I will cherish forever.” Gannon and four other finalists won the opportunity to travel to Homestead to watch the finale and find out who the contest winner was. As the grand prize winner, Gannon also will receive a designer watch, as well as a Richard Petty Driving Experience for her and a guest.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2008)
  • New Smyrna track to get busy, not Disney and Texas World Speedway?: last week NASCAR banned testing at its sanctioned tracks, providing a small, silver lining to short tracks that can host NASCAR test sessions. As for Central Florida short tracks, New Smyrna Speedway is in position to gain the most. Orlando Speedworld, at 3/8 of a mile, is much too small to be useful for testing. The mile-long tri-oval at Disney World is the right size, but its surface makes it unlike any NASCAR track. Darrell Fry, sports media director for Walt Disney World, said they have neither received nor expect any requests from NASCAR teams.(Orlando Sentinel)
    TEXAS? but what about Texas World Speedway a two mile “D” shaped oval with 22 degree banking turns with 8 degree banking in the front of the grandstands, it is still in operation.(11-22-2008) Comment here
  • Trenton Speedway to be remembered: Trenton International Speedway which was located on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds in the capital city and closed in 1980 will again be in the spotlight as one of the key attractions of the weekend of the Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show at the Atlantic City, NJ Convention Center, January 16 & 17th. “In my younger years I spent a lot of time at the speedway. My family operated the souvenir concession,” said Motorsports 2009 produced Len Sammons. “It is a shame that there has been little or nothing done to remember what a great speedway it was. We are going to try to change that with our trip down ‘memory lane’ at our show.” For the Motorsports 2009 weekend, many of the race cars that were seen in action at Trenton International Speedway will be on view. And, plans are in the works to have a number of the drivers and team members who participated there at the show to meet the fans. Originally a dirt oval, Trenton became a one-mile paved track in the mid-fifties. By the 1970s, until its final race, Trenton Speedway was a peanut shaped one and one-half mile track. Overall, it produced some exciting racing events throughout the years. Notable organizations such as NASCAR, USAC, ARDC and URC sanctioned the events. The final race run at Trenton was for the asphalt Modified stock cars, in June, 1980. That scheduled 134-lap event, which was called official after 79 circuits due to rain, was won by Geoff Bodine. The fairgrounds and speedway location has since been turned into an industrial complex and is also the site of the New Jersey Sculpture Gardens and the very classy Ratz Restaurant. The Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show will fill close to 300,000 square feet of the Atlantic City Convention Center and will offer just about everything imaginable in motorsports. Attendees will have the opportunity to collect autographs from a variety of national and regional racing figures. And as Motorsports 2009 takes place during the day on January 16th and 17th, the Gamblers Classic Indoor Auto Races [where Jayski first saw racing live] will be take place at night at Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk Hall [some drivers include: Ted Christopher, Billy Pauch Sr.]. Information on both events can be had at www.aarn.com. Ticket information is also available at the site or by telephoning (609) 888-3618.(AutoRacing1)(11-22-2008)Comment here


    News from November 21, 2008

  • Parrott leaves Yates UPDATE: Todd Parrott, a second-generation racer with more than two decades of racing experience, was released from Yates Racing after leading the #28 Ford and driver Travis Kvapil to a 23rd-place finish in the point standings.(FoxSports), no word where Parrott ends up or who will be Kvapil’s crew chief in 2009.(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: After spending a year building a relationship with Todd Parrott, #28-Travis Kvapil will have to get acquainted with a new Sprint Cup crew chief next season at Yates Racing. “Especially with a driver and crew chief, there are a lot of details or quirks you learn about each other,” Kvapil said Thursday. “Todd found out a lot about me, about what I like this year. At the same time, we weren’t content with how we ran, 23rd in points, and I guess the team felt we needed a change.” Max Jones, the team’s co-owner and general manager, gave Kvapil no indication of who his crew chief would be beyond someone with Cup experience. Parrott’s role with Yates, if any, is undetermined. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-21-2008) Comment here
  • No major layoffs at Roush: Jack [ROush] said he would have to “displace” half a dozen employees involved with his test program as a result of NASCAR banning testing at its sanctioned tracks in 2009. But his core staff — those involved with his Sprint Cup and Nationwide team operations at his race shop in Concord, N.C. — “will remain intact,” he said.(Detroit Free Press)(11-21-2008) Comment here
  • Allmendinger steps up for Make A Wish: As driver who has rapidly emerged as a talent to keep an eye on, and a personality to match, it wasn’t anything new to hear Sprint Cup racer AJ Allmendinger being interviewed on the radio Thursday morning, but this time his message was a little bit different from just talking racing. Speaking with Dave Smiley on 99.5/WZPL’s Smiley Morning Show on Thursday morning, AJ called in to donate over $6,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation. The donation will fund two different wishes for 2 children and their families, including one for Ellie, who will be heading on a Disney Cruise Vacation thanks to AJ’s gift. This is an important thing to do and I’m pretty excited about it. Even though I don’t live in Indianapolis, my manager is based there and of course we race at the Brickyard so this is a good opportunity for me to do some good outside of my backyard.” AJ is a competitive guy, even when it comes to charity work. “Now that I’ve done this, I’d like to challenge the guys who actually live in Indy-I know there are a lot of racers there-to step up and do the same thing!”(ajallmendinger.com)(11-21-2008)


    News from November 20, 2008

  • Kenseth re-signs with Roush Fenway: Roush Fenway Racing announced that it has re-signed 2003 Sprint Cup Champion Matt Kenseth to a multi-year contract. Kenseth has been with Roush Fenway since 1998 and has claimed 16 Sprint Cup Series wins and 24 Nationwide Series wins in addition to Roush Fenway’s first Sprint Cup championship. “It’s been a great 11 years at Roush Fenway Racing,” said Kenseth, driver of the #17 DeWalt Ford. “I appreciate everything Jack and DeWalt have done for me over the years. We’ve had a lot of success together including a championship and I’m really proud of that. I’m looking forward to the next few years and winning another championship with Roush Fenway.” Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush was elated with the news stating, “Matt Kenseth is a champion in every sense of the word and John Henry and I are proud to have him in our stable of drivers. Over the last 11 years Matt has been a leader in our organization and a voracious competitor on track, and to know that he will continue on in that role with Roush Fenway is gratifying.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR), no terms or exact length was announced, Kenseth was signed thru 2010.(11-20-2008) Comment here
  • #78 Team plans limited 2009 schedule UPDATE Nemechek out?: Furniture Row Racing announced it is planning a limited 2009 schedule [supposedly 12 races] for their Sprint Cup Series team and Car #78 driven by Joe Nemechek. “This has nothing to do with our on-track performance,” said Team President, Joe Garone. “This is simply a business decision by Furniture Row of balancing priorities in a tough economy and, from all appearances, looks to be getting even tougher.” In only its third year as a Sprint Cup Series team, Furniture Row Racing is coming off its best year, qualifying for 31 out of 35 races, earning a pole position at Talladega and having several strong finishes. As a privately-held entity, Furniture Row Companies – the team owner, primary sponsor, and one the nation’s largest furniture retailers – does not make its sales figures public. But the company is looking at retail sales trends and is tightening all expenses as a result. “Running a limited schedule is simply a cautionary measure,” said Tom Faulkner, President of Furniture Row Companies. “While we’ve been faring significantly better than most in our category, it’s no secret that our business is tied to the health of the economy – in particular, housing starts and real estate sales.” No additional announcements regarding team staffing or any other infrastructure or organizational changes are being made at this time. Garone added: “We’ve got some tough decisions to make, but we all know it will take fewer people and resources to run a limited versus full schedule. But we’re also optimistic that our best days are still ahead of us.”(Furniture Row Racing PR)(11-11-2008)
    UPDATE: The day after the annoucement that #78 Furniture Row Racing was running a partial schedule for 2009, [Team Owner] Barney Visser released [driver] Joe [Nemechek] from his ride. Visser said that the team may not even race at all for 2009 and how money was tight. So Nemechek is looking for a ride in 2009.(joenemechek.net)(11-20-2008) Comment here
  • Final Homestead TV Ratings down: ABC’s telecast of the Ford 400 Sprint Cup race from Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a final national rating of 4.0, down from the 4.2 earned for last year’s race that also aired on ABC. The race averaged 6,598,877 viewers. Ratings for the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup averaged a 3.8 rating on ABC, the same average as last year.(ESPN PR), see each race, overnight ratings, news and more on my 2008 TV Ratings page.(11-20-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR roundtable on economic welfare of sport: NASCAR’s 2008 season has come to a close, and few people seem certain the sport will look the same next year as it did this year. Garage talk is dominated by merger-and-acquisition rumors as teams fight for the right short-term and long-term strategies to stay afloat. Marketing budgets are being scrutinized so sponsors can adapt to the changing economy. Questions about car counts and attendance loom over a sport that has been riding a wave of prosperity. Those and other topics were fair game when NASCAR stakeholders from throughout the industry gathered recently in SportsBusiness Journal’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Here are the highlights from that roundtable discussion that featured:
    • Paul Brooks, president, NASCAR Media Group
    • Michael Burch, VP, business development, Speedway Motorsports Inc.
    • Mark Coughlin, executive VP, Octagon Racing
    • Mark Dyer, CEO, Motorsports Authentics
    • Michael Hargrave, senior VP, motorsports executive, Bank of America
    • Steve Lauletta, president, Chip Ganassi Racing
    • Hunter Nickell, president, SPEED
    • Julie Sobieski, VP of programming and acquisitions, ESPN
    • Michael Waltrip, owner/driver, Michael Waltrip Racing
    • Trip Wheeler, president, The Wheeler Group, and independent contractor, Velocity
    some of the questions include:
    How much does the economy dominate your conversations these days?
    How did the talks between ESPN and SPEED start?
    The theme of “Returning to the Roots” came out of that. How has that message gone over?
    What is the future for teams and is consolidation coming?
    Is there going to be fallout from all of these new team alliances and driver changes?
    See the few article at NASCAR.com.(11-20-2008) Comment here
  • Nationwide Series Season Ends on High Ratings Note: A season of improved ratings and viewership for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on ESPN2 ended on a high note this past weekend as the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway delivered a 1.6 household coverage rating, an increase of 33% from the 1.2 rating for last year’s race that also aired on ESPN2. ESPN2’s coverage of 23 Nationwide Series races during the 2008 season averaged a 1.5 rating, a seven% gain from last year’s 1.4 average. The coverage also saw a double-digit increase in the Males 25-54 demographic, averaging 1.3 vs. 1.1 last year. The event at Homestead-Miami Speedway averaged 2,096,644 viewers, up 38% from last year’s telecast. Live NASCAR racing returned to the ESPN networks in 2007 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series immediately became ESPN2’s highest-rated series. ESPN2 airs highlights of the NASCAR Nationwide Series awards banquet on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 12noon/et. The recently-completed Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons will be reviewed in a pair of half-hour special programs airing Sunday, Nov. 23, at 1pm/et on ESPN2. The Sprint Cup season review program airs first, followed at 1:30pm by the Nationwide Series review.(ESPN PR)(11-20-2008)


    News from November 19, 2008

  • Tony Stewart Live on Sirius ending? Speculation after listening to the final segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] on Tuesday night is the radio show may be ending after their Stewie Awards champions week show in December. The show has aired two years.(11-19-2008)
  • USAC driver critically injured in accident: U.S. Auto Club driver Cameron Dodson has been critically injured in a crash along a rural Hancock County road. The 20-year-old Dodson drives for Carl Edwards’ team and was the USAC Silver Crown series rookie of the year in 2007. He won one race in four starts this year. Methodist Hospital spokesman Gene Ford said Dodson was in critical condition Wednesday evening but did not disclose the nature of the injuries. The Daily Reporter in Greenfield reported that authorities said Dodson was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car when it went off a county road into a ditch about 20 miles east of Indianapolis early Wednesday.(AP/ESPN)(11-19-2008)
  • Congrats – Jason Jarrett: Congratulations to Jason and Christina Jarrett, who welcomed Anthony Ford Jarrett into their family on November 14th, 2008. Baby Jarrett weighed in at 6 lbs, 5 oz. and was 18.75 inches long. Jarrett is a 2-time runner-up in the ARCA RE/MAX Series point standings, and two ARCA RE/MAX Series race wins.(ARCA Racing site). Jarrett has two Cup starts and 40 Nationwide Series starts. Jarrett was #66-Scott Riggs spotter in 2008.(11-19-2008)
  • Chat Stats – End of Season: #48-Jimmie Johnson managed to win his first Chase championship in 2006 by scoring 1430 points, the lowest winning total in the five-year history of the Chase. Since then, he has rung up 1663 points (1643 if you adjust for the 5-point increase rule in 2007) in 2007 and 1644 (1629) to win the 08 title. Here are the champion chase points scored and runnerup for the first five years of the Chase:
    2004: 1st-Kurt Busch 1486, 2nd-Jimmie Johnson 1453
    2005: 1st-Tony Stewart 1483, 2nd-Greg Biffle 1453, 3rd–Carl Edwards 1483
    2006: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1430, 2nd-Matt Kenseth 1369, 3rd-Denny Hamlin 1377
    2007: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1663, 2nd-Jeff Gordon 1606
    2008: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1644, 2nd-Carl Edwards 1560
    Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr get to pass on banquet week, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch made the top-10 and the trip to NYC. Brian Vickers gets the top spot by improving 19 positions from 2007, finishing in 19th this season. David Reutimann gained 17 spots and boss/teammate Michael Waltrip improved 15 positions in 08. Kurt Busch suffered the largest decline in 08, dropping 11 spots from 7th to 18th this season. Reed Sorenson was next, falling 10 spots to 32nd. See full 2008 Chase Stats page and my 2008 Chase News, Rules, Wins, History page for more.(11-19-2008)
  • HOF Racing layoffs? UPDATE: on Monday, a large layoff at #96 Hall of Fame Racing, supposedly due to lack of full sponsorship. Also, the current Hall of Fame Racing shop building is up for sale.(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing, the NASCAR team owned by Arizona Diamondbacks executives, will cut its staff even if it secures sponsorship to run a full 2009 season. HoF general manager Tyler Epp said Tuesday employees were told no one will be laid off before the end of November, as team officials search for more funding. But with 44 employees for a single car operation, Epp said the team is overstaffed. “The reality is we ran 39th in points this year and personnel changes are going to be made,” Epp said. “And we simply have too many people for a one-car team. We’re going to have a reduction no matter what happens.” Epp said the team is close on several possibilities, but a merger with another small NASCAR team is not likely at this time. The team has partial sponsorship from DLP HDTV for next season. Hall of Fame originally was formed by former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but they sold their interest in the team last year to Diamondbacks executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel. Moorad is the Diamondbacks’ chief executive officer, and Garfinkel is the chief operating officer. The team had a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, but Epp said the agreement most likely will not carry into 2009 as the team searches for a new partner. Depending on whom they lease their motors from – and JGR is still a possibility, Epp said – the team could also have a manufacturer switch.(Associated Press)
    AND: Epp said it was unlikely his team – whose ownership group is led by Arizona Diamondback executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel – would merge with another team for 2009. “It’s been a rough year of transition, but that doesn’t change the intent and the model we’re trying to build,” Epp said. “Whenever you merge two different groups, you have to compromise on things, and we don’t want to compromise [certain] things.” As far as a driver for next year, Epp said he has had talks with at least six drivers whom he would be interested in having for 2009. “I can’t say enough about Ken Schrader and the job he’s done this year,” Epp said. “He’s certainly on the list.” Epp added that the team most likely will not be an affiliate of Joe Gibbs Racing next season, but he would like to remain with Toyota. He said the team likely would contract a body hanger, and the team also would need to find an engine supplier. Epp also said the team also is working on extending its lease for the building from Herzog Motorsports. The lease runs through December.(SceneDaily)(11-19-2008)
  • Updates on Team Layoffs: nothing official but heard that Stewart-Hass Racing [formerly Haas CNC Racing] laid off 16 people Monday, November 17th. Also .(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: Wood Brothers Racing has downsized its Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series operations [supposedly 25 people] effective immediately. The Wood Brothers expect to continue the 58-year tradition of the #21 Ford when racing resumes in February. “This economic downturn has been tough on everyone and racing is not immune,” team owner Eddie Wood said. “What we’re experiencing now is a dramatic correction but we will be geared up for the 51st running of the Daytona 500. We will be racing in 2009. We’re just not sure what that schedule looks like at this time. We’re going to do whatever is necessary to survive.”(FoxSports)
    UPDATE 2: hearing 23 people were laid off at Petty Enterprises on Tuesday.(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises, The Wood Brothers, Bill Davis Racing and Ernie Elliott’s engine shop all reduced their staffs in the two days since Sunday’s season finale. Although exact numbers are hard to pin down, Petty chief marketing officer Mike Bartelli said the company released 30 employees.
    The Wood Brothers are believed to have let go more than 20 employees.
    BDR, which has no sponsorship lined up for its Sprint Cup program, has cut its staff to all but a handful of employees. Elliott, who built engines for Chip Ganassi Racing, did the same since it’s unlikely Ganassi will use his motors once he completes a merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Just last week, 100-plus employees were released from DEI so the team can move forward with its merger with Ganassi.
    Ganassi let go of 71 people in July, starting a wave that has hit all teams regardless of their level of funding. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing all had small staff reductions over the past month, and Roush let additional employees go this week as the organization adjusts to running fewer entries in the Truck Series next season.(Associated Press)(11-19-2008)
  • Sad News – Don Hunter: Award-winning motorsports photographer Donald A. Hunter of Charlotte passed away on Nov. 6 following a brief illness. Hunter, 79, worked as a photographer for the Charlotte Observer for many years and was the director of photography for Charlotte Motor Speedway, according to an obituary in the Observer. Considered a pioneer in motorsports photography, Hunter won close to 100 awards, and was best known for his black- and-white photographic work. Many of his best photos captured the legends of NASCAR. In 1967, Hunter was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for photography, and one of his images remains in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Hunter is survived by his wife, Jean A. Hunter: daughter, Donna H. Franklin; and granddaughter, Marie R. Franklin. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation.(SceneDaily)(11-19-2008)


    News from November 18, 2008

  • Menard to drive #98 for Yates in 2009: Yates Racing announced Paul Menard as the driver of the #98 Menards Ford Fusion in 2009 Sprint Cup Series competition. Following his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series, Menard finished 26th in the point standings, while earning his first career pole at Daytona International Speedway and his first career top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway. “I’m really looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life with Yates Racing and behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford Fusion,” said Menard. “The #98 has been to victory lane 25 times, many times with Marvin Panch and Lee Roy Yarbrough. It’s exciting to be starting with Max (Jones) and Doug (Yates), and having Larry Carter on the box making the calls. I’ve seen how solid the Roush/Yates engine program has been over the years and I know we can have a really good season in the #98 Menards Ford Fusion.” Helping Menard make the transition to Yates Racing and Ford Motor Company will be veteran crew chief Larry Carter. Carter comes to Yates Racing from Roush Fenway Racing, where in 2008 he helped Jamie McMurray earn four top five and 11 top-10 finishes. Prior to working with McMurray, Carter worked with veteran driver Rusty Wallace in his final season of Sprint Cup racing. Yates Racing co-owner Max Jones is pleased with the addition of the #98 to the team’s racing stable. “Paul is a focused and determined young man. His efforts combined with the strength and compatibility of our sponsor partners, and with Ford, will take him to new levels,” Jones said.(Yates Racing PR)
    AND: hearing that Yates Racing laid off quite a few people Tuesday and could end up being only a two car team at the start of the 2009 season.(11-18-2008) Comment here
  • Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton’s official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008) Comment here
  • Homestead Overnight TV Ratings down: ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Ford 400 Sprint Cup season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.6, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The figure is 5.3% less than the 3.8 ABC earned overnight for the 2007 race.(SceneDaily), see all the 2008 TV Ratings and the chart on my 2008 TV Ratings page.(11-18-2008) Comment here
  • Racing Resources Says …
    * Carl Edwards won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards scored his third victory in the 10-race Chase, winning at Atlanta, Texas and Homestead and his ninth victory of the season. He posted his 16th career victory in his 157th career race. Edwards led five times for 157 laps including the final four.
    * Roush Fenway Racing posted its 11th victory in 2008; Edwards won nine, Greg Biffle won two. Roush Fenway Racing posted its sixth Homestead victory in 10 races there.
    * 2008 Champion Jimmie Johnson (finished 15th) scored top-15 finishes in the last 12 races, extending a streak that began at California in August. Johnson scored his third straight series championship (2006-2008). He finished second in final points in 2003 and 2004. Edwards finished second in points, 69 behind Johnson, his career-best series finish in his five years of competition (2004-2008).
    * Johnson became only the eighth driver to win three or more series championships; Richard Petty (7), Dale Earnhardt (7), Jeff Gordon (4), Cale Yarborough (3), David Pearson (3), Darrell Waltrip (3), and Lee Petty (3) are the others.
    * Johnson won his third series championship with only 255 career starts, the second fewest number of starts by any driver to win three titles; Jeff Gordon won his third in 1998 with only 188 career starts.
    * Johnson was the only driver to score top-15 finishes in all 10 Chase races. He produced a 5.7 average finish in the 10 Chase races.
    * Kevin Harvick (2nd) and Clint Bowyer (5th) each scored nine top-15 finishes in the 10 Chase races.
    * Gordon (4th) has gone 41 races without a victory, his longest streak between victories. Gordon, who finished seventh in 2008 points, ended a 14-year streak of winning at least one race a year (1994-2007).
    * Matt Kenseth (25th) who finished 11th in 2008 points, ended a six-year streak of winning at least one race a year (2002-2007). Kenseth’s last win came at Homestead in 2007 — 36 races ago.
    * Harvick who finished fourth in 2008 final points, ended a three-year streak of winning at least one race a year, 2005-2007. Harvick’s last win came at Daytona in February 2007 — 71 races ago. Harvick has been running at the finish in the last 80 races, the longest current streak by any driver.
    * Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya each won a race in 2007 but failed to win in 2008.
    * Dale Earnhardt Inc. ended an eight-year streak of scoring at least one victory (2000-2007).
    * McMurray (finished third) scored five top-10 finishes in the final six races of the season.
    * The top 10 consisted of five Chevrolets, three Fords, one Toyota and one Dodge.
    * Greg Biffle won the first two Chase races, Tony Stewart won at Talladega, Jeff Burton won at Lowe’s, Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas, Martinsville and Phoenix, and Carl Edwards won Atlanta, Texas and Homestead. No non-Chase driver won during the Chase.
    * Eight of the 12 Chase drivers changed positions at Homestead.(ESPN)(11-18-2008)


    News from November 17, 2008

  • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Ford 400 at Homestead:
    Total number of commercials: 122
    Total number of companies or entities advertised: 69
    Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 19
    Start time to record race/commercial periods: 3:45 PM
    End time to record race/commercial periods: 7:09 PM
    Total minutes: 204
    Minutes of race broadcast: 156
    Minutes of commercials: 48
    Number of missed restarts: 0
    Number of ‘mystery cautions’ (debris not shown): 1
    Total race brdcst time 156 Total comm. brdcst time 48
    See more and links to the full report on my 2008 TV Commercials page.(11-17-2008) Comment here
  • Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 80 consecutive races, the longest current streak and a NEW modern era record, next up is #07-Bowyer at 73 consecutive races. The all-time record for the longest streak of NOT having an DNF is 84 races held by Herman Beam from April 30, 1961 thru March 10, 1963. Kevin Harvick held the modern era (1972-present) record at 58 (10/3/2002-8/1/2004) unil he broke it himself in 2008. Next up is Jeff Gordon at 56 and Dale Earnhardt at 53 [Indy in 1996 thru Martinsville in the spring of 1998.(11-17-2008)
  • Top-5’s, Top-10’s: #99-Carl Edwards led all drivers in 2008 with 19 Top-5 finishes, #18-Kyle Busch was next with 17. #99-Edwards had the most Top-10’s with 27, followed by #48-Johnson with 22. All full-time drivers who ran all 36 races in 2008 scored a top-10 finish. Four drivers did not have a Top-5 and ran all 36 races: #7-Gordon [last top-5 at Watkins Glen 8/2007], #28-Kvapil [none], #43-Labonte [last at Martinsville in 10/2006] and #44-Reutimann [none].(11-17-2008)

  • Smith named Rookie of the Year: Rean Smith in the #01 The Principal Finacial Chevy clinched the Raybestos Rookie or the Year in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The year-end payout for 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is $75,000, the same amount Darrell Waltrip earned from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for his 1982 Cup series championship. Smith will earn a grand total of $91,500 from Raybestos brand Brakes for his efforts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. Smith became the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the 52-year history of the program without a DNF (did not finish). He was running at the finish in all 34 starts he made this season.
    · This is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year title for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
    · Smith led or shared the lead in Raybestos Rookie standings in the 26 of the 36 Sprint Cup Series races this season.
    · Smith scored a 34th-place finish in the Ford 400 and captured Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the 11th time in 2008.
    SMITH: YOU WERE THE UNDERDOG FOR RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BUT HAD A SOLID SEASON ALL YEAR LONG? DO YOU TAKE A LOT OF PRIDE IN BEATING SOME BIG NAMES FOR THIS AWARD? “I do. You know, there were a lot of big names that I was racing against and you look at the stuff at the beginning of the year, not very many people had me chartered as one of ‘em that was going to contend for Raybestos Rookie of the Year championship. So definitely had a little bit of a chip on the shoulder about that and wanted to go out there and prove that there is still a good ol’ stock car path and NASCAR path to get to this series. I feel like we did that to a certain extent. Obviously there were weeks I wanted to run better and there was weeks where we ran good and didn’t get what we deserved or ran good and got what we deserved. All in all, I’m very proud to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. You look at the names that are on there and some good names to be included with. At the end of the day you can’t change that. It’s going to be there forever.”
    HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO HAVE THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT BUT HAVE YOUR FUTURE BE SO UNCERTAIN? “This time of year if you don’t figure out what you’re doing it’s always difficult but it’s something at the end of the day you can put that on the shelf at the house and have that accomplishment. I’m very confident in my abilities as a race car driver. This year’s been a tough year and was a tough year for all the rookies. No excuses for that. It was a difficult year with the new car and that’s all their way to it. I’m pretty confident I’ll be driving a Cup car for somebody next year. I just don’t know which one and if not then I’ll look to the other two series and work hard to get back to this level.”(Camp and Assoc/Raybestos PR), see Rookie history, standings and more on my 2008 Rookies page.(11-17-2008) Comment here

  • Many sponsors for the #43 in 2009: After 35 years in which the #43 made famous by Richard Petty had season-long sponsorship continuity with either STP (1973-2000) or General Mills (2000-2008), a scorecard might be necessary to keep track of the car’s paint schemes in 2009. Petty Enterprises chief marketing officer Mike Bartelli says five or six companies will share primary sponsorship and space has been sold for more than half of the 36-race season. Bartelli says though sponsor opportunities remain available on the car, the team (shored up financially from its acquisition by private equity firm Boston Ventures) will field the #43 for the full season regardless. “Here you have the most iconic number in the sport’s history, and it’s not that we’re losing deals to others,” says Bartelli, who added Petty is substantially far away from cobbling together the millions needed to run its #45 Dodge [supposedly will be the #44 with McCumbee] full time in 2009. “It’s that deals aren’t there. We had a deal done two weeks ago, and the CEO reversed the decision after blessing it and indicated the company was going to make hundreds of millions in cuts.”(USA Today)(11-17-2008) Comment here

  • Lowe’s Extends the Celebration with a Winning Deal for Consumers: To celebrate Jimmie Johnson’s third consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championship, Lowe’s is offering customers 10% off KOBALT tools, tool storage and truck boxes. The offer will be available Nov. 17 through Nov. 19 in all Lowe’s stores in the U.S. and Canada on all in-stock Kobalt tools. “It’s a great feeling to win our third straight Championship, but I didn’t get here without a great team and the support of all the Team Lowe’s Racing fans,” said Johnson. “I want to thank Lowe’s for sharing our success with the fans that supported us throughout the 2008 season.” Only 10 years ago, Lowe’s introduced Kobalt tools, an exclusive line of quality tools at an affordable price. Today there are more than 900 tools under the Kobalt brand and every tool is designed and engineered to combine toughness and durability with the latest developments in comfort, balance and practical innovations. “To be successful, it helps to have the right tools for the job,” said Team 48 Crew Chief Chad Knaus. “The way Lowe’s is rewarding the fans with this great Kobalt offer is another example of the support they give us both on and off the track.” Kobalt Tools has been the proud sponsor of the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the past two seasons. In addition, Johnson drove the #48 Kobalt Tools Impala SS in eight races this year. The 10% offer is valid from Nov. 17 through Nov. 19, 2008 in stores only while supplies last and excludes Special Order items. The discount will be taken at the register. Visit your local Lowe’s store or lowes.com for additional details.(Lowe’s PR)(11-17-2008)
  • Best Wishes to Victory Junction Gang Camp volunteer Thom Tittle of Barbenton, Ohio in his fight with AML type M4, an acute form of leukemia. Thoughts and prayers go out to Tim, who I met at VJGC a few years ago.(11-17-2008)

  • #48 Team wins 4th Quarter pit crew award: The #48 Lowe’s Chevy team from Hendrick Motorsports put together a string of seven consecutive top-10 finishes including two wins to earn four-quarter honors in the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award competition. The eight-race fourth quarter began with New Hampshire and ended at Texas. The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award has been given quarterly throughout the 2008 Sprint Cup season. The winning pit crew was determined by a vote of each team’s crew chief. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award and a check for $100,000. The presentation will be made at the 2008 NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City in December. The voting for the overall winner from among the four quarterly winners will take place this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Lowe’s team collected four more points in the eight races this season compared to 2007. This year, he has scored 116 more points than Carl Edwards who is currently second in the Chase standings. The #48 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by crew chief Chad Knaus, swept fourth-quarter honors last year en route to its second year-end award and $100,000 bonus. The team also won the title in 2004. In 2008, the #18 M&M’s over-the-wall crew from Joe Gibbs Racing emerged the first-quarter winner while the #9 Budweiser Dodge team from Gillett Evernham Motorsports prevailed in the second quarter. Third-quarter honors went to Edward’s #99 crew from Roush Fenway Racing.(Mechanix Wear PR)(11-17-2008)

  • Support Rally for Domestic Automakers: Next week, Congress and the current Administration will determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in the nation’s history. GM is asking for folks to help to let your US Senator and Representatives know how important the Domestic Automotive Manufacturers and their continued survival is to the future of this country. See the full PR at the GM Media site – click here and/or go to gmfactsandfiction.com and follow the easy steps to email your congressman and senator to support the U.S. automakers loan plan.(GM PR)(11-17-2008) Comment here

  • Speed Perfornmace Awards Voting Starts: SPEED opens fan voting for the third annual SPEED Performance Awards on Nov. 17 with an eye towards highlighting the year’s defining moments on and off the race track. The first three categories — Biggest Hit, Oops Award and Best Move — open for video voting at SPEEDtv.com (Keyword: Performance) on Monday with nominees from nine different sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR, Formula One, NHRA, the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am, MotoGP, AMA Motocross and CORR, Indy Lights. Three more categories will open for voting on Nov. 24, with the final three opening for voting on Dec. 1. Voting for all categories will end at midnight on Dec. 14. Race fans across all disciplines will get to voice their opinions through SPEEDtv.com on the following awards:
    * The OOPS Award (biggest mistake)
    * Biggest Hit
    * Temper, Temper
    * Biggest Upset
    * Best Rivalry
    * Best Finish
    * Best Move
    * Best Comeback
    * RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year
    In addition to the fan-selected SPEED Performance Awards, SPEED will once again present the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak, to the SPEED Performer of the Year. Nominations are made and voted on by a panel of SPEED personalities, producers, former trophy winners and Andretti. All of the awards will be part of a one-hour SPEED Performance Awards special to air in February.(SPEED)(11-17-2008)

News from November 16, 2008

  • Championship Notes:
    • Jimmie Johnson won the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship – his third consecutive championship. Johnson tied Cale Yarborough (1976-78) as the only drivers to win three consecutive series championships.
    • Johnson finished the 2008 season 69 points ahead of Carl Edwards.
    • Johnson is 33 years old and from El Cajon, Calif.
    • Johnson finished the 2008 season with seven wins, 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. He had just one DNF. Three of his victories and eight of his top-10s came during the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
    • Johnson’s third championship comes in his seventh year of full-time competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He has finished in the top five in the final points standings all seven of those years.
    Team/Car Owner: Rick Hendrick/Jeff Gordon
    • This is the eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship for Hendrick Motorsports, second only to Petty Enterprises (nine).
    • This is Hendrick’s 25th fulltime season as a team owner and Gordon’s seventh year as a car owner.
    • This is car owner Jeff Gordon’s third championship – all with Johnson.
    Crew Chief: Chad Knaus
    • Chad Knaus won his third series championship as a crew chief – all with Johnson. He becomes the first crew chief in series history to win three consecutive championships.
    • Knaus is 37 years old and from Rockford, Ill. This is his eighth season as a crew chief – seventh with Hendrick Motorsports and Johnson as driver.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-16-2008)
  • Johnson the CHAMP; Edwards wins at Homestead: #99-Carl Edwards won the FORD 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his 9th win of the season and the 15th of his career. Edwards did what he needed to do, win the race and lead the most laps, but #48-Johnson finished 15th and won the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship by 69 points over Edwards. Johnson is the first driver to win three championships in a row since Cale Yarborough 1976-78 and only the 2nd driver ever. Crew Chief Chad Knaus is now the only crew chief ever to win three Sprint Cup Championships in a row. #29-Harvick finished 2nd, followed by #26-McMurray, #24-Gordon, #07-Bowyer, #9-Kahne, #28-Kvapil, #5-Mears, #20-Stewart and #1-Truex Jr. #88-Earnhardt Jr. broke a brake caliper and finished 41st. #47-Ambrose finished 42nd and #84-Vickers finished 32nd to get the #84 back into the Top-35 in owners points and drop the #47 out of the top-35 for the first five races of 2009. There were 7 cautions for 31 yellow flag laps and 15 lead changes among 8 leaders.
    For race results, awards and more, see my Homestead Race Results Awards Page.(11-16-2008)
  • UNOFFICIAL Final Chase Driver Points Standings [after Homestead race 36 of 36]:
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 6684 [7 wins]
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 6615 -69 [9 wins]
    3) #16-Greg Biffle 6467 -217 [2 wins]
    4) #29-Kevin Harvick 6408 -276
    5) #07-Clint Bowyer 6381 -303 [1 win]
    6) #31-Jeff Burton 6335 -349 [2 wins]
    7) #24-Jeff Gordon 6316 -368
    8) #11-Denny Hamlin 6214 -470 [1 win]
    9) #20-Tony Stewart 6202 -482 [1 win]
    10) #18-Kyle Busch 6186 -488 [8 wins]
    Top-10 go to NYC and the Banquet
    11) #17-Matt Kenseth 6184 -500
    12) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6127 -557 [1 win]
    Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Homestead.(11-16-2008)
  • Final UNOFFICAL Classic Driver Points Standings (the OLD way)
    [after Homestead race 36 of 36]:

    1) #99-Carl Edwards 5226 [9 wins]
    2) #48-Jimmie Johnson 5220 -16 [7 wins]
    3) #18-Kyle Busch 4984 -252 [8 wins]
    4) #16-Greg Biffle 4747 -489 [2 wins]
    5) #31-Jeff Burton 4709 -527 [2 wins]
    6) #29-Kevin Harvick 4691 -545
    7) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4605 -631 [1 win]
    8) #24-Jeff Gordon 4537 – 699
    9) #20-Tony Stewart 4487 -749 [1 win]
    10) #07-Clint Bowyer 4487 – 749 [1 win]
    11) #11-Denny Hamlin 4439 -797 [1 win]
    12) #17-Matt Kenseth 4316 -920
    13) #6-David Ragan 4299 -937
    14) #9-Kasey Kahne 4085 -1151 [2 wins]
    (11-16-2008)
  • How did the Chase Drivers finish at Homestead:
    (Standings after Phoenix)
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, 15th
    2) #99-Carl Edwards, 1st
    3) #16-Greg Biffle, 18th
    4) #31-Jeff Burton, 40th
    5) #29-Kevin Harvick, 2nd
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer, 5th
    7) #24-Jeff Gordon, 4th
    8) #17-Matt Kenseth, 25th
    9) #11-Denny Hamlin, 13th
    10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 41st
    11) #18-Kyle Busch, 19th
    12) #20-Tony Stewart, 9th
    (11-16-2008)
  • Homestead Race Fast Facts:
    Carl Edwards won the Ford 400, his 16th victory in 157 Sprint Cup Series races.
    This is his ninth victory and 27th top-10 finish in 2008.
    This is his first victory and fourth top-10 finish in five races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    Kevin Harvick (second) posted his sixth top-10 finish in eight races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is his 19th top-10 finish in 2008.
    Jamie McMurray (third) posted his third top-10 finish in seven races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    Regan Smith (34th) was the highest finishing rookie.
    Jimmie Johnson won the championship by 69 points over Carl Edwards.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-16-2008)
  • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Daytona in 2009:
    Ambrose dropped out of the top 35 for the 1st five races of 2009 and Speed’s team is in the top35
    33) #41-Sorenson/Ganassi Racing: 2844 +152
    34) #7-Gordon/RGM: 2770 +78
    35) #84-Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2705 13 points ahead of 36th
    these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top-35:
    36) #47[was #00]-Ambrose/Waltrip Racing: 2692, 13 points out of 35th
    37) #10-Allmendinger/GEM: 2625 -80
    38) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing: 2579 -126
    So teams in the Top-35 are locked in for the Daytona 500 and first five races of 2009
    For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(11-16-2008)
  • Homestead Penalty Report:
    Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
    1 #2 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 50
    2 #16 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 51
    3 #8 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 70
    4 #8 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 121
    5 #84 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 128
    6 #2 Commitment Line Violation & Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 151
    7 #2 Excessive Speed-Entering pits & Excessive speed – Exiting pits TE 151
    8 #84 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 153
    9 #47 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 168
    10 #84 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 169
    11 #45 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 169
    12 #31 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 179
    13 #41 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 199
    14 #2 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 207
    15 #31 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 208
    16 #2 Too many crewmembers in contact with pit service area TE 208
    17 #45 Commitment Line Violation TE 210
    PT – Pass through
    TE – Tail end of the longest line
    SG – Stop and Go
    OL – One lap
    ND – NASCAR discretion
    MCI – Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-16-2008)
  • Who got a lap back on each caution at Homestead: (and their finish)
    Caution 1: #10-Allmendinger, 11th
    Caution 2: #21-Elliott, 12th
    Caution 3: #9-Kahne, 6th
    Caution 4: #16-Biffle, 18th
    Caution 5: #66-Riggs, 14th
    Caution 6: #28-Kvapil, 7th
    Caution 7: #12-Newman, 21st
    (11-16-2008)
  • Drivers who won in 2007 but did not win in 2008
    the drivers who lost winning streaks of at least one win a year:
    drivers and their last win listed:
    14, Jeff Gordon, Charlotte, October 2007 [has won at least 2 races a year in this streak]
    6, Matt Kenseth, Homestead, November 2007
    2, Kevin Harvick, Daytona 500, February 2007
    1, Casey Mears, Charlotte, May 2007 [only series win]
    1, Martin Truex Jr., Dover, June 2007 [only series win]
    1, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sonoma, June 2007 [only series win]
    1, Jamie McMurray, Daytona, July 2007.(11-16-2008)
  • TWO Race Tracks Jeff Gordon has never won a CUP race at: There are TWO current race tracks the Nextel Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at [a Nextel Cup race]:
    Texas 0 for 16 with a best of 2nd in 2002 and 11/2008
    Homestead 0 for 9 with a best finish of 3rd 2004
    Gordon has won at 22 [20 active] of 24 tracks he has raced on including two not on the circuit any longer, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham.
    Gordon won at Phoenix in April to finally knock that track off the list in his 17th try there.(11-16-2008)
  • Robby gets help from #77 crew: The pit crew for the #77 Penske Dodge of Sam Hornish Jr. [who failed to make the race] will work for the #7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge of Robby Gordon in Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon is battling to stay in the top 35 in owner points, which would lock him into the fields of the first five races of 2009. He started the race in 34th, 30 points ahead of #47-Marcos Ambrose and 47 ahead of Brian Vickers, who is driving the #84 Red Bull Toyota in place of Scott Speed.(FoxSports)(11-16-2008)
  • GM unsure EGR will use Chevy’s UPDATE: General Motors has not been told whether the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team will field Chevrolets next season, according to Pat Suhy, GM’s NASCAR manager. Dale Earnhardt Inc., a four-car Chevrolet team, and Chip Ganassi Racing, a two-car Dodge team, announced Wednesday their plans to merge for the 2009 season. They did not announce a manufacturer, but Dodge teams seem resigned to the probability that the new four-car organization will race Chevrolets next season. “Until they tell us what it’s going to be, I’m not confident of anything,” Suhy said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of Sunday’s Ford 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale. “They need to make a decision based on their own needs and what kind of support they can get and what they think is in their best interests.” Suhy would not comment on how much support DEI gets and whether it is based on a four-car team.(SceneDaily)(11-15-2008)
    UPDATE: Plans are in place for Chip Ganassi Racing to switch from Dodge to Chevrolet and be a part of the engine program currently used by Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing. DEI, a Chevrolet-based organization, announced on Wednesday it is merging into a four-car team with the Dodge organization of Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009. Officials from both sides said no decision has been made on whether they would be under the Chevrolet or Dodge umbrella. Richard Childress, the owner of RCR and co-owner of the Earnhardt Childress Racing [ECR] engine program, said a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to hopefully finalize plans to bring Ganassi Racing into the ECR program. Asked if the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing would have to be Chevrolet to be a part of that program, he said, “I would think so. ECR will still be around,” Childress said. Childress was glad to see the merger between DEI and Ganassi, saying, “It’ll make them stronger for sure. If it’s put together and works like ECR, it will be great. ECR has worked beyond all of our expectations.” Childress didn’t rule out the possibility of employees from Ganassi’s engine program joining ECR. “I know he’s [Ganassi] wanting to keep his engine shop going,” he said. “We haven’t decided everything yet.”(ESPN)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Home Depot to honor Stewart at Homestead: #20-Tony Stewart will close another chapter in his racing career this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway when he competes in his final Sprint Cup Series race with Joe Gibbs Racing after a 10-year relationship with the team and sponsor Home Depot. Home Depot will pay tribute to Tony Stewart’s last start with the team with a card stunt that says, “Thanks Tony for 10 Great Years” on the frontstretch at Homestead-Miami Speedway prior to Sunday’s Ford 400. See images at RacingOne.com.(11-16-2008)Comment here
  • Yarborough will not be at Homestead on Sunday UPDATE: Cale Yarborough won’t be on hand to see Johnson potentially tie his record of three consecutive titles on NASCAR’s premier series. An invitation was extended to Yarborough, who had a conflict with another appearance, according to NASCAR. Yarborough won titles from 1976-78.(NASCAR.com)
    UPDATE: [Yarborough] didn’t see a reason to make the trek to Miami this weekend. He’s spending a low-key weekend on his farm with his wife. There was a rumor going around the Yarborough wanted an appearance fee and the track wouldn’t pay it. I gave Yarborough a call a few minutes ago to ask about that. “Well, I didn’t ask for any pay and they didn’t offer any pay,” Yarborough said from his farm in South Carolina. “They called me and asked me to come.” Yarborough said nobody from NASCAR called him and wondered, “If they wanted me there, wouldn’t they have called?” I [Tania Ganguli] asked a NASCAR spokesman about their process and he said NASCAR mostly left the past champion invitations up to the Speedway. The spokesman said Yarborough told them he had a prior engagement and couldn’t make it. Because Yarborough’s a private person, and doesn’t often show up at races, they scheduled a teleconference so he could handle all his media requests at once. Yarborough told me [Ganguli] he had an autograph signing a few days ago, so he couldn’t attend the Thursday press conference that featured the past champions. Today, he’s just watching the race. I [Ganguli] asked if a fee would have changed his mind. “That would have made a difference,” Yarborough said, good-naturedly. “But it would’ve had to be a lot of money for me to go all the way down there. … Jimmie’s gonna tie my record. All good things must come to an end.”(in part from the Orlando Sentinel)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Jim Beam back with Robby Gordon in 2009: Jim Beam plans on returning as a primary sponsor for the majority of Sprint Cup races with #7-Robby Gordon next year as he visited with the company’s distributors annual conference a couple of weeks ago and was introduced as the 2009 driver. Neither side will comment until the contract is signed and becomes official. The sponsorship should put Gordon in good shape for the 2009 season. He already had confirmed that he had renewed his sponsorship from Menards.(SceneDaily)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Roush: No plans to build test track: Back in the day, NASCAR team owner Jack Roush had contemplated building his own test track. On Saturday, the day after NASCAR had announced that it was banning all testing on the tracks it sanctions, Roush was asked if he had revived the idea. “I have neither the money nor the inclination to build a test track,” Roush said. Roush also said he has no intention of circumventing NASCAR’s ban. “If we could organize a situation where all the established teams could hold hands and resolve not to test outside of the NASCAR mandated or approved testing, not go to the skid pads, not go to Canada, not go to Pikes Peak or any of the places they are checking on,” he said, “I’d be happier with that than to skirt around.” Roush said, however, that if other teams started skirting, he would be forced to as well.(Kansas City Star)(11-20-2008) Comment here
  • Bush’s Baked Beans to sponsor Ambrose: JTG Daugherty Racing announced a 2009 Sprint Cup sponsorship agreement with Bush Brother’s and Company. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, the company will enter its 7th season as a partner. For the first time, Bush’s Baked Beans will serve as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series for Marcos Ambrose’s #47 Toyota in Richmond (5/2) and Darlington (5/9). The brand will also serve as a major associate sponsor for 10 events next season. Jay Bush, Brand Ambassador and star of the brand’s advertising campaign added, “Duke and I are really excited about our partnership with Marcos Ambrose and JTG Daugherty Racing. They are a great team, and have represented our brand very well in the past. We are excited about continuing our relationship in the Sprint Cup Series. If I can just keep Duke from selling Marcos the Secret Family Recipe, we’re in for a great season.(JTG Racing PR)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Last race for Stewart at Gibbs: Tony Stewart will drive his last race behind the wheel of the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing Sunday at Homestead, ending a 10-year run that saw Stewart earn rookie of the year honors in 1999, a championship in 2002, another championship in 2005, and 33 point-paying victories in between. Having accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish as a driver, Stewart will reach even higher in 2009 as he becomes a driver/owner in the Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing. As Stewart looks forward to 2009, in his rearview mirror lay the accolades mentioned above as well as 10 poles, 129 top-fives, 206 top-10s and 10,225 laps led in 355 career Sprint Cup starts – all of which have come with Joe Gibbs Racing. Sunday’s season-ending race at Homestead will mark Stewart’s 356th and last Sprint Cup start with the team owned by Joe Gibbs – the three-time Super Bowl winner as head coach of the Washington Redskins and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.(JGR PR)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Last race for Mears at Hendrick: Sunday’s race at Homestead will mark the final start for #5-Casey Mears at Hendrick Motorsports. Mears earned his first Sprint Cup win, driving the #25 Chevy to Victory Lane in the May 27, 2007 event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. In 71 starts with Hendrick, Mears has recorded one win, six top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and one pole position. He also made 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts with the team, recording seven top-five finishes and 14 top-10s.(HMS PR)(11-16-2008) Comment here
  • Hamlin heading to Japan UPDATE: from a Joe Gibbs Racing PR: You’ll be heading to Japan and Fuji Speedway for Toyota Motorsports Day during the off season – Are you looking forward to that trip?: Denny Hamlin – “I really am looking forward to it. Usually, when the end of the season rolls around I like nothing more than to go home, turn off my phone and do as little as possible but this is a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity. This is a huge event for Toyota, where they will showcase their Cup and F1 teams for all of their fans – it’s a cool thing to be a part of and I’ll get a chance to visit some new places and meet some new people.”(JGR PR), Kyle Busch was supposed to go, but he has another commitment and has to attend the NASCAR Nationwide Banquet. Hamlin will not be driving a F-1 car but a Stock Car.(11-14-2008)
    UPDATE: Because he’s required to be in Orlando next weekend for the Nationwide Series banquet, Kyle Busch won’t get to test a Formula One car in Japan. Busch had been looking forward to a Toyota exhibition in which he was going to drive a Sprint Cup car and then an F1 car. NASCAR is requiring him to attend the banquet because he finished in the top 10 in points, and Busch isn’t happy about it. “I have to go to the Nationwide banquet and accept my sixth-place awards instead,” Busch said. “NASCAR took me away from the Formula One car.”(Tampa Tribune)(11-16-2008)

    Comment here

  • North Wilkesboro could be bought as test track? NASCAR’s sudden testing ban has Cup team owners and crew chiefs scrambling, and the latest report is that one major NASCAR Cup owner is now negotiating to purchase North Wilkesboro Speedway to use as a test track. The uphill/downhill five-eighths-mile track has been idle for more than 10 years since Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre bought it and took its two Cup tour dates to Texas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway. The Wilkes County track has been used at times by car owner Jack Roush for driver tryouts, but it would likely need some major refurbishing before it could be used for serious Cup testing.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-16-2008) Comment here


    News from November 15, 2008

  • Montoya out of Bud Shootout if in a Chevy: Chip Ganassi Racing’s #42-Juan Pablo Montoya will not be allowed to use one of Dodge’s spots in the 2009 Budweiser Shooutout if the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team switches to Chevrolet. According to the new rules, the top six teams from each manufacturer from the previous year qualify for the Shootout. When the new rules were announced in August, NASCAR officials said the issue of teams switching manufacturers in the offseason still needed to be worked out. While Earnhardt-Ganassi officials say they have not finalized a manufacturer, NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnell said Saturday morning that the teams will use their points from the previous year but their manufacturer of the current year to determine berths in the preseason event that comes eight days prior to the Daytona 500. “It will be the top six Dodges starting for the ’09 season,” O’Donnell said. “Juan Pablo would be a Chevrolet. Let’s say Juan Pablo fell in #5 at Chevrolet, then Chevrolet [could use him].”
    Montoya wouldn’t fall in the top six in Chevrolet, but what would happen with the final Dodge spot? The #42 Ganassi team is the sixth-ranked Dodge team, while the #41 Ganassi team is seventh. Next in line? Robby Gordon. As long as he remains a Dodge. If not him, then Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish would get the spot. “We’ll have six teams with Dodge on the jersey,” Dodge Motorsports’ Mike Delahanty said.
    If all teams keep their current manufacturers, the Chevrolet drivers in the Budweiser Shootout will be Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears (as driver of the #07 Richard Childress Racing car), Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    The Fords will be Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Jamie McMurray and Travis Kvapil.
    The Toyotas will be Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano (driving the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing car), Brian Vickers, and David Reutimann. Michael Waltrip leads Dave Blaney by 55 points for the final Toyota spot.
    The Dodge teams will be Kasey Kahne, David Stremme (in the #12 Penske Racing car), Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler and then Montoya if he remains a Dodge.(SceneDaily), see more and the chart on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(11-15-2008) Comment here
  • Happy Hour Final Practice for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is over, the top five:
    #11-Hamlin 164.429
    #16-Biffle 163.607
    #83-Speed 163.478
    #48-Johnson 163.339
    #24- Gordon 163.310
    slowest: #25-Keselowski 159.532 and #43-Labonte 159.839
    incidents…none reported
    Best average speed, all laps included:
    #7-Gordon 160.855
    #29-Harvick 160.420
    #41-Sorenson 159.938
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Homestead Practice Speeds Page.(11-15-2008)
  • Saturday practice for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is over, the top 5:
    #48-Johnson 167.665
    #11-Hamlin 167.069
    #83-Speed 166.420
    #1-Truex Jr. 166.338
    #88-Earnhardt Jr. 166.205
    slowest: #25-Keselowski 159.839 and #45-McCumbee 160.142
    incident: #42-Montoya scraped the wall and pancaked the right side of the car.
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Homestead Practice Speeds Page.(11-15-2008)
  • Pit Stall Selections have been made for the FORD 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, #44-Reutimann got to choose first since he will start from the pole, and took stall #1, #83-Speed, who starts 2nd, took stall #14, a pit stall with an opening in front of it. #99-Edwards took the 4th spot, which has an opening. Points leader, #48-Johnson got stall 37 due to his 30th starting spot, as teams pick their stalls by how they qualify. #6-Ragan who starts 6th, took the final pit stall. See who took what stall on my Homestead Pit Stall selections page.(11-15-2008)
  • Some spotter changes in 2009: Hearing that Earl Barban [currentlt at the #38 team] will be back as the spotter for #48 Jimmie Johnson and current spotter, Stevie Reeves will join Yates Racing and Paul Menard [will be the #98 team]. Bob Jeffrey, the spotter for #17 Matt Kenseth will join Stewart-Hass Racing to work with #14-Tony Stewart. Mike Calinoff, who started 2008 with #40-Dario Franchitti at Chip Ganassi Racing before the team shut down and has been spotting for #20-Stewart during The Chase, will return to Roush-Fenway Racing and work with #17-Matt Kenseth. Barban spent two years with Johnson previously and Calinoff was with Kenseth for six seasons, including the Championship season in 2003.(11-15-2008)
  • Sad News – Barbara Rinaldi: Barbara Rinaldi wife of Bob Rinaldi, former NASCAR member in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series, passed away early Friday morning 11-14-08, due to complications of cancer. Barbara was a long time employee of Fischer Engineering and BSR Products, before retiring to spend time caring for her beloved rescue Beagles. The family would like to thank the Doctors, Nurses and all staff members of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for their valiant efforts and compassion during her time in the facility. Bob would also like to thank Bobby Hutchens of DEI and formerly of RCR, for his help in getting Barbara into the capable care of the folks at Wake Forest. Services: Visitation will be Tuesday 11-18 from 5 to 8pm at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, 494 E. Plaza Dr. Mooresvill, NC, and Friday 11-21 from 4pm to 8pm at Sansone Funeral Home, 192 Wood St. Bristol, RI Funeral services will be 10:00am at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Bristol, RI
    In lieu of flowers please make contributions in her memory to:
    The Greg Biffle Foundation
    P.O. Box 4359
    Mooresville, NC.(11-15-2008)
  • Some more info, questions about the DEI/Ganassi merger: On Wednesday, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced they were “launching a combination of racing operations” for 2009, collectively planning to race four cars in 2008. According to a press release issued by the two teams, Martin Truex Jr. will drive the #1 for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing next season, Aric Almirola will drive the #8, Juan Pablo Montoya the #42 and a driver to be named later will pilot the #41.
    Left unsaid were almost all the important details:
    • What brand of cars the teams will campaign.
    • Whether Ganassi’s crew will supply engines or whether Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies will.
    • Whether the team will be run out of DEI’s shops in Mooresville, N.C. or Ganassi’s complex in Concord, N.C.
    • Who will be in charge and which executives will remain from the two teams.
    • Who will sponsor the #8, which has no announced sponsors or the #41, which has sponsorship for only half the season.
    • And, most importantly, whether Teresa Earnhardt or Chip Ganassi has the final say in the operation of the newly merged organization.
    Apparently, most of those questions remain to be sorted out. While it is expected that the new entity will, in fact, campaign Chevrolets, sources close to the situation insist that the two parties have not yet worked out many of the critical details in the agreement. So why announce it now if it isn’t sorted out? Sources say that DEI’s deal with Bass Pro Shops requires the team to field a minimum of three teams and that if it fails to do so, the sponsor could walk. And in this brutal economy, losing yet another sponsor is the last thing DEI could afford, figuratively or literally.(Ford Racing)
    OWNERS POINTS: another question not answered: what happens to the #15 team and #01 team OWNERS points, both easily in the top-35? No idea yet, they could be sold or transferred in separate deals. Could end up with Richard Childress Racing for the new #33 team that Clint Bowyer will drive for in 2009 as RCR will NOT be transferring the owners points from the #07 team. So no word yet what will happen to the #15 or #01 owners points….yet.(11-15-2008) Comment here
  • Where did this years Chasers finish last season at Homestead:
    #17-Matt Kenseth WON
    #11-Denny Hamlin 3rd
    #24-Jeff Gordon 4th
    #99-Carl Edwards 5th
    #48-Jimmie Johnson 7th
    #31-Jeff Burton 8th
    #16-Greg Biffle 13th
    #29-Kevin Harvick 19th
    #18-Kyle Busch 20th [was in the #5]
    #20-Tony Stewart 30th
    #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 36th [was in the #8]
    #07-Clint Bowyer 39th.(11-16-2008)
  • Dale Jr. talks about DEI/Ganassi merger: DALE EARNHARDT, JR., #88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed DEI-Ganassi merger among other topics:
    WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE DEI/GANASSI MERGER? “I think it is good for both teams to try to do that. It gives those guys a good opportunity to try to get through the season financially. Chip Ganassi is a racer. They really need somebody like that. I just hope that they move forward and make some things happen. It is tough this year, tough next year, especially for all the guys trying to find money. That is this biggest problem. There are some great personnel at Ganassi. Steve Hmiel will be reunited with a bunch of old employees at DEI and buddies. The need a racer around there over the top of things and really making hard decisions. It will be interesting to see how all of that works. I think it should be seamless and it should be productive for everybody”
    IS THERE SOME IRONY THERE THAT THIS HAPPENED GIVEN WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO LAST YEAR? “I don’t know. I think it is good for the teams though. I am happy for Martin (Truex, Jr.) and Aric (Almirola). I think it will be good for Juan (Pablo Montoya) to work with them guys. Juan is really going to enjoy working with Martin. It should be good. I think it is great for Ganassi to give his company a boost. It is really good for both. I think Juan will enjoy working with Martin and Aric and those teams. They will be able to work off each other. It will be exciting to see new data come in from the DEI guys and the DEI guys will be excited to see what Ganassi has been doing over the last several years as far as setups and what direction they have went. When you accumulate that information together and the bits and pieces that are good from each side and mold it together, you might really improve all of it as won.”
    ARE YOU UPSET ABOUT THE LAYOFFS AT DEI? “That was going to happen regardless of whether they merged or not I am pretty sure. They weren’t going to run four teams, or three or whatever. You know what I mean. You can’t blame a single individual for the layoffs. The sport is going to have a lot of those hopefully only for the short term. But it is not because of the merger.”
    WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DAD WOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS HAPPENING? “I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. Sorry, I really don’t know. He would had better luck at securing the sponsorships than they currently do with the state that they are in. When my Daddy died, all of that changed. Everything about everything changed. If he was here, he would be sad, but he is not and everybody has to go do their own thing and make their own way. Everybody has got to take care of themselves. He ain’t here to take care of everybody, so you have to do your own thing, take care of yourself. Gotta do what they gotta do and that said and I ain’t got nothin’ to do with it and I don’t really have an opinion about it. I want them to succeed, I want them to be happy. I want it to work. But I can’t exhaust any of my emotion over it because of what I got going on myself. I have to get my own thing going, I got to do better. I got things I could do better. See full transcript at GM Racing.(11-15-2008) Comment here
  • Knaus Named Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year: Crew chief Chad Knaus, who made countless, crucial, bold and successful calls throughout the season for his #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points leader Jimmie Johnson, was named the 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year during a press conference today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With his team’s dominance in last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix, Knaus secured his fifth “Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the race” honor during the season. It bolted him ahead of Steve Addington (#18 M&M’s Toyota & driver Kyle Busch) and Bob Osborne (#99 Office Depot Ford & driver Carl Edwards). Each had four wins entering the final race of the competition at Phoenix International Raceway. Knaus and his team have a 141-point lead over Edwards and needs to finish 36th or better in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture their third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
    The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge was a season-long contest, sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Professional, which determined the best crew chiefs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. Following each Cup race, a panel voted to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It wasn’t necessarily the crew chief that went to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team.
    Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent the Wypall brand, made up the panel of judges. The Crew Chiefs included Osborne, Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team. The weekly winning crew chief received a check for $1,000 as well as signage on the team’s pit box the following week to announce the win.
    While Knaus gets to celebrate his coveted title, Myra Cochran of Concord, NC, is experiencing an all expenses paid vacation this weekend where she will be an honorary “crew chief for a day” and will shadow one of the Wypall Wipers crew chiefs during pre-race ceremonies Sunday. Cochran, an avid NASCAR fan, participated in Wypall Wipers first annual online Ultimate Crew Chief Fantasy Game where she competed against hundreds of other fans, voting every week for the crew chief they believed would win the upcoming race. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(11-15-2008)
  • NASCAR to ban testing? UPDATE 3: NASCAR executives are moving toward perhaps a virtual ban on all testing through the early months of 2009, until the economy settles down, according to NASCAR teams. That’s a reversal of the plan just a few months ago to open up testing for 24 days per team at Sprint Cup tour tracks. Currently teams can test en masse at seven official NASCAR tests at Cup tour speedways. And teams can test anywhere else at any time. NASCAR could bar teams from testing at any NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, such as Kentucky.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-10-2008)
    UPDATE: hearing that NASCAR told the teams at Homestead on Friday that testing in all forms would be banned in 2009.(11-14-2008)
    UPDATE 2: In an effort to help teams manage costs, NASCAR is suspending testing for its three national and two regional racing series for the 2009 season. Testing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as the NASCAR Camping World East and West Regional Touring Series at tracks hosting any of those events are included in the 2009 policy. NASCAR reached this decision following several months of discussion with the teams regarding testing, coupled with the current economic conditions. The suspension of testing should save the industry millions of dollars. “This is a significant move during an unusual time for all of us,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton in making the announcement. “NASCAR has routinely adjusted its test policy over the years to reflect current conditions. This is another example of that.”(NASCAR PR)(11-14-2008)
    UPDATE 3: Teams said they were told that the testing ban is to be reviewed in June. NASCAR president Mike Helton said that the plan is for the ban to run the entire year. NASCAR says more details will be coming.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-15-2008) Comment here


    News from November 14, 2008

  • Reutimann on pole at Homestead: #44-David Reutimann won the Coor’s Light Pole for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a speed of 171.636mph for his first pole of 2008 and of his career [see 2008 poles and career pole list here]. #83-Scott Speed will start 2nd followed by #17-Kenseth, #99-Edwards, #29-Harvick, #6-Ragan, #26-McMurray, #18-Busch, #41-Sorenson and #1-Truex Jr.. Points leader, #48-Jimmie Johnson will start 30th.
    The Go-or-go homers [non top 35 in owners pts] to make the race: #21-Elliott, #78-Nemechek, #84-Vickers, #09-Marlin, #45-McCumbee, #25-Keselowski, #70-Raines and #10-Allmendinger. Missing the race are #96-Schrader, #13-Papis and #77-Hornish.
    For pole progression, qualifying results, order and starting lineup, see my Homestead Qualifying/Starting Lineup Page.(11-14-2008)
  • How did the Chase Drivers qualify at Homestead:
    (Standings after Phoenix)
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, 30th
    2) #99-Carl Edwards, 4th
    3) #16-Greg Biffle, 23rd
    4) #31-Jeff Burton, 17th
    5) #29-Kevin Harvick, 5th
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer, 27th
    7) #24-Jeff Gordon, 36th
    8) #17-Matt Kenseth, 3rd
    9) #11-Denny Hamlin, 25th
    10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 22nd
    11) #18-Kyle Busch, 8th
    12) #20-Tony Stewart, 13th
    (11-14-2008)
  • Homestead Qualifying Fast Facts
    David Reutimann won the Coors Light Pole Award for the FORD 400 with a lap of 31.462 seconds, 171.636 mph.
    This is his first pole in 63 Sprint Cup Series races.
    This is his first pole and fifth top-10 start in 2008. He became the 23rd driver to win poles in all three national series.
    This is his first pole in two races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    Scott Speed (second) posted his career first top-10 in his first race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    Matt Kenseth (third) posted his second top-10 start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is his 14th in 36 races this season.
    Regan Smith (26th) was the fastest qualifying rookie [Hornish DNQ’d]
    (NASCAR Statistics)(11-14-2008)
  • No poles in 2008: Ten drivers who won a pole in 2007 failed to win a pole in 2008, of course ten rained out qualifying sessions didn’t help, the drivers:
    # of years in streak, driver, track and date of last pole
    2, Kurt Busch, California, August 2007
    2, David Gilliland, Daytona, February 2007
    1, Clint Bowyer, New Hampshire, September 2007
    1, J.J. Yeley, Michigan, June 2007
    1, Jamie McMurray, Sonoma, June 2007
    1, Dave Blaney, New Hampshire, June 2007
    1, Casey Mears, Chicago, July 2007
    1, Reed Sorenson, Indianapolis, July 2007
    1, Michael Waltrip, Talladega, October 2007
    1, Martin Truex Jr., Texas, November 2007
    (11-14-2008)
  • Qualifying Order for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is posted. Go-or-go homers will qualify at the end of the session, once the top-35 drivers are done. The first of the top-35 drivers scheduled to go out is #12-Newman, the final top-35 driver scheduled is #66-Riigs. The first go-or-go homer to go out [36th] is #13-Papis, the final driver scheduled to qualify is #84-Vickers. See the full qualifying order on my Homestead Qualifying Page.(11-14-2008)
  • Friday practice for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is over, the top 5 fastest:
    #42-Montoya 171.282
    #12-Newman 170.708
    #2-Busch 170.702
    #44-Reutimann 170.417
    #28-Kvapil 170.347
    slowest: #70-Raines 165.492 and #8-Almirola 166.348
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Homestead Practice Speeds Page.(11-14-2008)
  • Where did the non top-35 drivers practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
    if things stay the same, these drivers would make the race:
    #10-AJ Allmendinger, 11th fastest
    #77-Sam Hornish Jr., 13th
    #25-Brad Keselowski, 15th
    #84-Brian Vickers, 21st
    #78-Joe Nemechek, 32nd
    #09-Sterling Marlin, 33rd
    #21-Bill Elliott, 34th
    #96-Ken Schrader, 36th
    if things stay the same, these drivers would miss the race:
    #13-Max Papis,
    #45-Chad McCumbee,
    #70-Tony Raines,
    (11-14-2008)
  • Layoffs at the #22? UPDATE: hearing that most of the Bill Davis Racing #22 Cup team shop and engine personnel were laid off this week [been told 40 people PLUS full engine shop].(11-14-2008)
    UPDATE: Heading into the final race of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, Bill Davis Racing (BDR) is fully committed to preparing to participate in a full season of competition in Sprint Cup racing in 2009. The search for sponsorship for the BDR Cup program is ongoing. Though, like many of its competitors, the team has been forced to make cutbacks at the High Point, N.C.-based shop in recent weeks, Crew Chief and Competition Director Tommy Baldwin will have a full staff working during the winter months preparing for the start of the 2009 season. “We have a busy winter ahead of us,” states Baldwin. “We have windtunnel and 7 post time scheduled and as much track testing as we can get in before the first of the year due to the new testing policy NASCAR just announced. No doubt these are tough economic times and we’ve had to make adjustments to our work force like every other team out there, but it’s still full steam ahead for our Bill Davis Racing Cup team. I know everyone is working hard to make sure we show up in Daytona with everything we need and I’m confident we’re on our way to getting all the pieces put into place to make our program even stronger in the future.”(BDR PR)(11-14-2008) Comment here
  • #10 Crew Chief Suspended: Long-time Gillett Evernham Motorsports technical director Sammy Johns will step in as interim crew chief for the #10 Dodge and driver AJ Allmendinger this weekend. Crew chief Mike Shiplett was suspended from the team activities this week for missing the flight home from Phoenix last weekend.(FoxSports)(11-14-2008) Comment here
  • No merger for Petty: One thing not in the cards for Petty Enterprises is a merger with another team, said Richard Petty, who earlier this year sold majority ownership in the team to investment banking firm Boston Ventures. “We’ve talked to everybody about everything that could be talked about and we’re still standing here independent,” Petty said when asked about a possible merger. “We didn’t want to take on anybody else’s baggage. We had enough of our own.” The lack of sponsorship is a major worry, the seven-time Sprint Cup Champion admitted Thursday. “I’m concerned about Richard Petty’s future,” he said. “It starts here. And Petty Enterprises’s future and everybody’s future. Because right now, has everything bottomed out? We don’t know how far down we’ll go. … We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not. Racing’s not going to survive without the economy surviving or vice versa.”(SPEEDtv)(11-14-2008)Comment here
  • #29 to carry United Way logo at Homestead: Kevin Harvick and the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Racing team will carry the United Way logo on the deck lid of the #29 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevy in the season finale Sprint Cup Series race this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Shell Oil Company is an avid supporter of the United Way and participated in a “Day of Caring” at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Houston on October 30, 2008. Approximately 125 Shell employees along with #29 Shell-Pennzoil driver Harvick and members of his crew all took part in making improvements at the facility. Activities included re-tilling a baseball field, sprucing up landscaping, refurbishing the children’s area, and painting and organizing storage rooms at the club. The logo that Harvick will carry on the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy is a way for Shell Oil to say thank you to the United Way and all they do in the greater Houston community.(Shell-Pennzoil PR)(11-14-2008) Comment here
  • Juicy Fruit on the #42 for Homestead: The bright yellow color of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Slim Pack will adorn the hood of the #42 Dodge Charger of Juan Pablo Montoya for the 2008 NSCS season finale this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(CGRFS PR), see images of the scheme on my #42 Team Schemes page.(11-14-2008)
  • Kurt Busch to test a sports car at Daytona: #2-Kurt Busch will be at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday (11/12) participating in Penske Racing’s testing for the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race. “We had a podium finish there last year,” said Kurt, who teamed with Penske Racing IRL drivers Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves to finish third in the prestigious sports car endurance race. “Knowing Roger like I do, we plan on coming back prepared as ever this time around.” Briscoe is expected to share the driving seat with Kurt on Wednesday. The 47th Annual Rolex 24 is scheduled for Jan. 24-25 with Daytona test days scheduled for Jan. 2-4.(Tom Roberts PR)(11-14-2008) Comment here
  • Hamlin heading to Japan: from a Joe Gibbs Racing PR: You’ll be heading to Japan and Fuji Speedway for Toyota Motorsports Day during the off season – Are you looking forward to that trip?: Denny Hamlin – “I really am looking forward to it. Usually, when the end of the season rolls around I like nothing more than to go home, turn off my phone and do as little as possible but this is a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity. This is a huge event for Toyota, where they will showcase their Cup and F1 teams for all of their fans – it’s a cool thing to be a part of and I’ll get a chance to visit some new places and meet some new people.”(JGR PR), Kyle Busch was supposed to go, but he has another commitment. Hamlin will not be driving a F-1 car but a Stock Car.(11-14-2008) Comment here
  • Drivers who have not won in 2008 who have a current streak of consecutive seasons with at least one win a year:
    drivers and their last win listed:
    14, Jeff Gordon, Charlotte, October 2007 [has won at least 2 races a year in this streak]
    6, Matt Kenseth, Homestead, November 2007
    2, Kevin Harvick, Daytona 500, February 2007
    1, Casey Mears, Charlotte, May 2007 [only series win]
    1, Martin Truex Jr., Dover, June 2007 [only series win]
    1, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sonoma, June 2007 [only series win]
    1, Jamie McMurray, Daytona, July 2007. Comment here
  • Richardson hopes to run 2009 Daytona 500: Robert Richardson Jr. and the R3 Motorsports team [#23 Chevy in the Nationwide Series] plan to attempt to run the 2009 Daytona 500.(11-13-2008)
  • Homestead Rookie Notes: #01-Regan Smith was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the November 9 Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix, scoring a 23rd-place finish. Smith grabbed top rookie honors for the 10th time in 2008. Sam Hornish Jr. leads Regan Smith by three points (199-196) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the November 16 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami. Tony Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to win a Sprint Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Stewart captured the inaugural Ford 400 in 1999. The most laps led by a Raybestos Rookie in eight previous races at Homestead is 52 by Casey Atwood in 2001. The only Raybestos Rookie to win a pole in nine Sprint Cup races at Homestead is Jamie McMurray. McMurray won his first-career pole at the 2003 Ford 400. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a Sprint Cup Series race is Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya captured the 2007 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway (55 races). The most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a pole position in the Sprint Cup Series is Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier captured the top starting spot for the 2008 LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (19 races). The 2008 season marked the first time in NASCAR’s modern-era (since 1972) that THREE drivers shared the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings. After the second race of the season, Sam Hornish, Jr., Dario Franchitti and Regan Smith were all tied at the top of the standings. Ryan Newman holds the all-time Raybestos Rookie record for most poles (6), most top-fives (14) and most top-10s (22). Denny Hamlin is the only Raybestos Rookie to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup since the program was created in 2004. Hamlin holds the record for most earnings by a Raybestos Rookie ($6.6 million in 2006). The record for most wins by a Raybestos Rookie is three, shared by Tony Stewart (1999) and Jimmie Johnson (2002).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), see rookie standings, history and more on my 2008 Rookies page.(11-14-2008)
  • Chase stats going into Homestead: In 49 Chase races, Jimmie Johnson has accomplished the following:
    Won 14 of 49 Chase Races (28%)
    Finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 23 of 49 Chase races (47%)
    Finished in the Top 10 in 35 of 49 Chase races (71%)
    Even thugh #6-David Ragan just missed The Chase, he has scored the seventh most points (1169) of all drivers during the nine races of The Chase thus far. Ragan will be a strong candidate for The Chase next season. #11-Denny Hamlin went from worst to 9th at Phoenix with a fifth place finish. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved into 10th with his sixth at PIR, #18-Kyle Busch fell back to seven points out of 10th in the standings with his 8th and #20-Tony Stewart’s 22nd at Phoenix dropped him all the way from 9th to 12th, 28 points behind Dale Jr. See my Chase Stats after Phoenix page.(11-14-2008)
  • Homestead Tire Notes: Teams in all three NASCAR series will run the same tire codes at Homestead this weekend, though those for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be branded “Goodyear Eagle,” while those for the Craftsman Truck Series will be branded “Goodyear Wrangler” . . . Goodyear held a tire test at Homestead on October 14 . . . participating in that test were the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge with Juan Pablo Montoya and the #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota with Brian Vickers . . . “Our confirmation test at Homestead went well. The early wear rates were high, as expected, but as the teams tested and the track ‘rubbered in,’ wear improved significantly. By the end of the day, both cars were running full fuel runs with good performance,” said Rick Campbell, Goodyear’s NASCAR project manager . . . this is the same combination of left- and right-side tires that Goodyear brought for teams to run at both Texas and Chicagoland this season . . . NASCAR teams have also run this left-side tire code (D-4134) with a different right-side code at Dover, Michigan and Kentucky in 2008 . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams will are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Homestead . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see the full report with pressures and codes on my Homestead Race Info page – Goodyear section.(11-14-2008)


    News from November 13, 2008

  • Phoenix Final TV Rating slightly down: ABC’s coverage of the Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway earned a final national rating of 3.6, down slightly from the 3.7 earned for last year’s event that also aired on ABC. The telecast averaged 5,656,949 viewers. The final 30 minutes of the race aired on ESPN2 and earned a 3.3 rating, averaging 4,610,804 viewers. The Chase for the Sprint Cup ratings on ABC continue to be essentially even with last year through nine races. ESPN2’s live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix earned a 1.3 household coverage rating, up from the 1.1 earned for last year’s race that also aired on ESPN2. The telecast averaged 1,651,486 viewers. ESPN2’s ratings for the Nationwide Series are up 7% from last year.(ESPN)(11-13-2008) Comment here
  • Hellmann’s to sponsor Sadler at Homestead: Elliott Sadler is finishing his 11th season as a Sprint Cup Series driver, and his 10th as a full-time driver, but he has never had an off-season like the one that is ahead of him this year. Sadler is getting married to his fiancée, Amanda, on Jan. 17 in his hometown of Emporia, Va. When he returns to Daytona International Speedway in February to start the 2009 Sprint Cup season he will do so as a married man for the first time in his career. “I’m really excited to start this chapter of my life,” said Sadler. “Racing and family have always been the most important things in my life. Now, I’m going to be taking the first step towards starting a family of my own with my best friend in the world. “It’s going to be a great off-season, but I have some unfinished business to take care of at Homestead-Miami this weekend. We want to win a race and this is our last chance to do that this season. All of the guys on the #19 team have worked hard all season and a win this weekend at Homestead would be the best way to say thank you for all their hard work.” The #19 Dodge is racing with Hellmann’s as the primary sponsor for the weekend.(GEM PR)(11-13-2008) Comment here
  • Air Force leaving Wood Brothers? UPDATE to GEM: hearing that the Air Force sponsorship will leave the #21 Wood Brothers Ford and could be headed to either one of the Roush Racing teams [#’s 6,16,17,26,99] or Yates Racing [#28, #38].(11-6-2008)
    UPDATE: Air Force officials announced Wendesday that it will begin a new NASCAR partnership with Gillett Evernham Motorsports when it sponsors the #10 car driven by Reed Sorenson for the 2009 Sprint Cup season. GSD&M Idea City, the Air Force’s advertising agency, organized the sponsorship and will roll out a multimedia advertising campaign to support the partnership in early 2009. The Air Force is both a primary and associate sponsor of the #10 car driven by Reed Sorenson, a 22-year-old three-time winner in the Nationwide Series. As a primary sponsor, the car will feature the Air Force paint scheme in four of 38 Sprint Cup races in 2009. For the 2009 season, the Air Force is changing their marketing strategy to rebalance their sponsorship and activation programs to increase public awareness of the Air Force and to attract more recruits. “Advertising and marketing that goes beyond the race track will help us connect with fans and emphasize the speed, power, precision, and team work that is common to both NASCAR and the Air Force,” said Col. Timothy Hanson, Air Force Recruiting Service director of Strategic Communications. The Air Force has had a long-standing relationship with Wood Brothers Racing and the #21 car. “The Air Force is proud of the partnership we have had with the Wood Brothers Racing,” Colonel Hanson said. “They are perhaps the most respected team in NASCAR and they have been strong supporters of the Air Force. While our sponsorship has changed we will always value the services they have provided us.” The colonel added that he is excited about this new venture and confident that Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Reed Sorenson will provide new opportunities for the Air Force to achieve their sponsorship goals and inspire young Americans to consider the Air Force as a great career choice.(Air Force Recruiting Service PR)(11-13-2008) Comment here
  • More on Earnhardt-Ganassi Merger: A key player in the merger was Dodge Motorsports, which gave its blessing to team owner Chip Ganassi to pursue the partnership with a Chevy organization. “Number one, we want all of our business partners to be healthy like we want to be healthy,” said Mike Delahanty, the senior manager of Dodge Motorsports. “Under these unprecedented times there are business solutions that no one ever thought possible. The blessing is, ‘Chip, we want you to be healthy and viable long-term. We want you to have a business plan that does that. Bring us a business plan that does that and we’ll talk about it, even if means letting him go.”’ Sources close to the situation said the teams are expected to compete under the Chevy/General Motors banner of DEI. That would leave Dodge with three cars in Penske Racing, three in Gillett Evernham Motorsports and one or two in Petty Enterprises. Martin Truex Jr. [#1] and Aric Almirola [#8] will remain the drivers from the DEI side and Juan Pablo Montoya [#42] will be kept from Ganassi. The driver of the fourth car [# 41] will be named at a future date. AJ Allmendinger, Scott Riggs and Regan Smith are among the candidates for that seat.(ESPN.com)(11-13-2008) Comment here
  • Coleman out at Hall of Fame: #96-Brad Coleman’s fortunes changed quickly [after leaving Baker Curb’s Nationwide Series team and planning on a Cup ride with Hall of Fame Racing]. According to Hall of Fame Racing, Coleman is now a free agent. He is no longer under contract to Hall of Fame. (ESPN.com)(11-13-2008) Comment here
  • Gordon to race go-kart in Brazil: This weekend, Jeff Gordon will head south for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the season finale for the Sprint Cup Series. While the racing for NASCAR’s premier division ends Sunday, Gordon will face another group of premier drivers later this month much farther south. In Brazil. On November 30, he is scheduled to race in the International Challenge Of Go-Kart Champs in Florianopolis, Brazil – a charity karting event organized by Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa. Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher and Indy Racing League driver Tony Kanaan are also scheduled to participate in the event.(Performance PR Plus)(11-13-2008)
  • Bodine, Wimmer to tour military bases: Geoff Bodine, Hillary Will, Scott Wimmer, and Arie Luyendyk will tour United States Military bases as part of the Racing Heroes 2008 goodwill military tour. The tour, which begins on December 9th and concludes on December 20th, will include visits to U.S. Military Bases in Iraq and Kuwait. The Racing Heroes 2008 goodwill tour is geared toward military personnel stationed overseas. The program focuses on raising spirits and providing inspiration to servicemen and women serving abroad. David Chavez, president of Pro Sports MVP says, “The UFC fighters’ and models’ visit will have a tremendous impact on the troops. We are certain that the Racing Heroes 2008 tour will be very entertaining and a welcome and needed break from the routine”. The participants will attend autograph/photograph sessions, lead clinics and demonstrations, hold meet and greets, and visit hospital patients and staff.(Pro Sports MVP PR)(11-13-2008)


    News from November 12, 2008

  • OFFICIAL – Earnhardt and Ganassi Form New Four-Car Team: Two of motorsports’ biggest names – Earnhardt and Ganassi – will launch a four-car team beginning in 2009 through the combination of the motorsports operations of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Inc. (CGRFS). NASCAR stars Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the #1 and #42 respectively and future star Aric Almirola will be behind the wheel of the #8. The driver of the #41 will be named in the near future. “In this ultra-competitive era of NASCAR, it is necessary to build and sustain the strongest team possible and our combining with the people and equipment at Dale Earnhardt Inc. will help create a strong four-car program for years to come,” said Chip Ganassi. “This is a win-win for both organizations as well as all of our partners.”
    “Having a partner like Chip who is heavily involved on the competition side of the business is an ideal situation for DEI,” Teresa Earnhardt said. “He has a long history of managing championship teams in the IndyCar and Rolex Grand-Am Series and I share his passion and goals of winning races and ultimately championships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. I think this is a case where we are stronger together than we are apart.” Details of the new four-car operation will be announced at a future date.
    For more information log onto www.chipganassiracing.com and www.daleearnhardtinc.com.(CGRFS PR)(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • Latest DEI/Ganassi merger news UPDATE 2: The Chip Ganassi-Teresa Earnhardt merger may be back on, with Ganassi the on-track presence for what would be a two-car DEI operation, under the Chevy banner. Earnhardt needs a second team sponsorship in order to keep her Chevrolet technology deal. However, why Ganassi would really want to merge is unclear, and how Ganassi might get out of his contract with Dodge is also unclear. Regardless of what happens with the possible merger, Ganassi is expected to pair #42-Juan Pablo Montoya with his full Target sponsorship, and DEI’s #8-Aric Almirola would get the 12-race Wrigley’s sponsorship. That would leave #01-Regan Smith the odd-man out at DEI.(Winston-Salem Journal)(11-12-2008)
    UPDATE: The long-speculated partnership between Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates now appears to be imminent. Sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that while the deal cannot technically be classified as a merger, an announcement is expected within the next few days regarding a competitive and economic partnership between the two teams. The deal will allow DEI and Ganassi to field at least three cars next season with drivers Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola. A fourth car is possible, dependant on sponsorship. There is no word on potential manufacturer affiliations, with DEI currently aligned with Chevrolet, and Ganassi in the Dodge camp.(SIRIUS Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox), am hearing Chevy will be the manufacturer of the ‘team’.(11-12-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Teresa Earnhardt and Chip Ganassi will combine their slumping race teams next season, an effort to stabilize their organizations in a tough economic time. The combined team will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and will field cars for Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Juan Pablo Montoya and a driver yet to be named, two people familiar with the decision told the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced. Both organizations have struggled to secure sponsorship this season, forcing the teams to pool resources. Truex and Almirola will come from Dale Earnhardt Incorporated; only Truex’s car has full sponsorship for next season. Montoya has half a season of sponsorship, and Ganassi’s flagship #41 has full sponsorship but no driver. DEI fields Chevrolets, and Ganassi has a Dodge contract. Details of a manufacturer switch still are being worked out as the team is expected to use General Motors.(Associated Press)
    AND hearing approximately 110 people were laid off at DEI Wednesday.(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • BB&T to sponsor #33 & Bowyer for eleven 2009 races: BB&T Corporation and Richard Childress Racing have agreed to an 11-race sponsorship for RCR’s #33 Chevy with driver Clint Bowyer for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. In addition to 10 points races, BB&T will also be the primary sponsor on Bowyer’s #33 Chevy for the annual Sprint Cup Series all-star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May. The March 8 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will mark the first of three consecutive races for BB&T, followed by four in a row starting at Talladega in April and wrapping up with the all-star festivities in Charlotte. In September, BB&T will be showcased again in Atlanta and at Dover for the first of three Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Bowyer’s #33 Impala SS will also feature a burgundy and gold BB&T paint scheme at Martinsville and Talladega next fall. BB&T will serve as a major associate sponsor of the #33 Chevy for the remaining 26 races on the 2009 schedule while General Mills’ brands Cheerios and Hamburger Helper will be the primary sponsor. Next season will mark the second-consecutive year that BB&T has expanded its role within the RCR family of sponsors. In 2007, BB&T sponsored a partial Nationwide Series schedule with Bowyer in RCR’s flagship #2 Chevrolet. That role evolved into a 25-race schedule in 2008, in addition to two races on the #07 Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series.(RCR PR)(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • Martin in the #84 at Homestead UPDATE 3 NO, but Vickers/Speed swap: Monday [11-10-2008] on “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody is reporting that Mark Martin will drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, replacing Scott Speed. Host, Dave Moody: “Since taking over for the released AJ Allmendinger four races ago, Speed has recorded an average finish of 34.2, including a 40th yesterday in Phoenix. The team has fallen out of the Top-35 in owners’ points now. They now trail the Michael Waltrip Motorsports #47 team by 16 points with one race to go in the battle for that all important 35th position in the owner standings. An official announcement is expected from the team later this afternoon. Mark Martin, of course, enjoys a long relationship with Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, for whom he drove at the former MB3 and Ginn Racing teams. He ran his final scheduled event for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. yesterday in Phoenix. He, of course, will move to Hendrick Motorsports full time in 2009. His arrangement with Red Bull Racing is, we are told, for one race only and will have no impact on the team’s long term plans for Scott Speed.(SIRIUS XM Radio PR)(11-10-2008)
    UPDATE: been told that Martin will NOT run the #84 and Scott Speed will drive the #84 [#82 in 2009] at Homestead this weekend. The entry list from NASCAR has Team Red Bull having a third car entered, the #82, but it was withdrawn.(11-11-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Martin’s deal to drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway has apparently fallen through. Sources close to the team say the deal was signed, sealed and all but delivered, only to have high level executives at General Motors nix it at the last minute. Martin is set to drive a Hendrick Motorsports Chevy full-time next season, and when GM brass got wind of Red Bull’s plans, a series of phone calls was made to scuttle the deal just minutes before a press release was to be issued announcing it. The end result is reportedly an angry Martin, a disappointed Red Bull Racing Team, and a “Plan B” that could result in Scott Speed and Brian Vickers trading cars this weekend in Miami.(SIRIUS Speedway)
    AND In an effort to secure a spot among the top 35 in the owner’s standings, Team Red Bull is playing musical chairs this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. #83-Brian Vickers will swap rides with teammate #84-Scott Speed for the season finale. As a result, Vickers will have to qualify on time for Sunday’s Ford 400 while Speed will be locked into the field no matter where he qualifies. Currently, the #84 is 17 points behind 35th place in the standings. Being inside that threshold at the end of the season is valuable, as it guarantees a starting spot for the first five races of 2009, including the prestigious Daytona 500.(FoxSports)(11-11-2008)
    UPDATE 3: Red Bull Racing Team’s #83 and #84 drivers will swap cars for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead- Miami Speedway. Brian Vickers, who’s normally behind the wheel of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, will pilot Scott Speed’s #84, and Speed will pilot the #83.“We already have two talented drivers under our roof, so we chose to switch drivers for one race and change the momentum for this team,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian’s a team player and wants to help the #84 see the same success the #83 has had this year. Scott’s a rookie and we wanted to take some pressure off of him and let focus on just driving the car. This organization is a team effort and we’re treating it that way by finding a solution that works for everyone.”(Red Bull Racing PR)(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR chairman Brian France holds press conference, TV comments: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France held a Teleconference Tuesday, Nov 11th, discussing the problems manufacturers are having and possible impact of NASCAR and made a comment about ABC moving the final part of the Phoenix Sprint Cup race [11/9] to ESPN2.
    Q. Just wanted to get what you thought about the ABC moving the final 34 minutes of the race on Sunday to ESPN2, and if there’s anything that you can do about that in the future?
    BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we didn’t like it. That was not what we had anticipated. But we have talked to them repeatedly in the last couple of days, and have, you know, there were lots of circumstances that they had to consider. I don’t have to agree with each one of those, but they had their own issues that they had to manage around. So we were the, you know – unfortunately, we got the short end of that as a sport. But we’re working with them and hope to eliminate that from happening in the future. In part from a NASCAR Transcript, see the full transcript on Jayski.com – Transcript: Brian France Press Conferences 11/11/2008, also, see many articles about the TV Coverage from the past few days on my Article/Column Links page.(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • Las Vegas 2009 Test Dates Announced: Las Vegas Motor Speedway has set 2009 test dates for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. The Nationwide cars will test on the 1.5-mile superspeedway on Wednesday, Jan. 28 and Thursday, Jan. 29. NASCAR has not announced a testing policy for the Sprint Cup teams for next year, but LVMS will be available to all Sprint Cup teams on Monday, Jan. 26 and Tuesday, Jan. 27 if testing is allowed by NASCAR. Race teams who test at LVMS will be preparing for the March 1 Shelby 427 Sprint Cup Series race and the Feb. 28 Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series event. Tickets for the 2009 NASCAR Weekend are on sale now by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.lvms.com. Passes for the Neon Garage, driver introductions and Lucky 7 Preferred parking also are available.(LVMS PR)(11-12-2008)
  • Keselowski to attempt Homestead: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevy, will attempt to qualify for his second Sprint Cup Series race this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Keselowski, 24, made his Cup debut earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway and picked up Sunday’s race at Homestead after his first qualifying attempt at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was rained out. Keselowski joined elite company after making his Cup debut on Nov. 2 at Texas Motor Speedway, rallying from a 37th-place starting spot to finish 19th. Of his four Hendrick Motorsports teammates, only Dale Earnhardt Jr. did better in his Cup debut. Earnhardt scored a 16th-place finish at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. Veteran crew chief Lance McGrew once again will call the shots for Keselowski and the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevy team at Homestead-Miami Speedway. McGrew, who has been successful working with young drivers like Ricky Hendrick, Vickers and Kyle Busch, is a former Sprint Cup Series race winner and Nationwide Series champion.(HMS PR)(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • 1st Hybrid Cup pace car at Homestead: Sprint Cup officials will leave it to a green car to lead the field to the green flag Sunday at the season-ending Ford 400—marking a Sprint Cup first. The all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, featuring the debut of Ford’s next-generation hybrid system, along with the all-new Fusion Sport will pace the Ford 400, which concludes Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “Miami is an international city with a flair for what’s new,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. “And with the evolution of Ford Championship Weekend into one of the highest-profile events in sports, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami is the perfect spot for a historical racing first—the Fusion Hybrid Pace Car.” The Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Sport will both be in NASCAR-inspired camouflage for the race. Miami-area race fans and the national television audience on ABC will be the first to see the cars, since they won’t be officially unveiled until the Los Angeles International Auto Show three days later. They will be available in dealer showrooms in the spring of 2009. After the Fusion Hybrid leads the field to the green flag, the 263-horsepower Fusion Sport will be the pace car for the remainder of the Ford 400. The Ford Fusion Hybrid can operate in electric mode at speeds up to 47 mph with a range of more than 700 miles of city driving on a single tank of gas. A smaller, lighter high-volt battery has greater charge capacity and range than Ford’s current generation battery, as found in the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, which is the most fuel-efficient SUV on the planet.(Ford Racing)(11-12-2008) Comment here
  • Liberty Medical to sponsor #43 at Homestead: Liberty Medical [libertymedical.com] will adorn the side of the #43 Dodge that Bobby Labonte will drive at Homestead for the first time this season. “Everyone knows that General Mills will not be back with us next year. We’re sorry to see them go but we’ve enjoyed a long and successful relationship with them. I wish them the best in 2009 and beyond. They are a great sponsor, but more importantly they are great friends.”(MCG Sports/Petty Enterprises PR)(11-12-2008)
  • Valvoline on the #10 at Homestead: #10-AJ Allmendinger will be sponsored by Valvoline at Homestead. Allmendinger has scored 439 points over the past four races – the 15th most of any driver. The California native has yet to start a Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami but has a best finish of 21st in the Nationwide Series. The Valvoline team looks to improve on its season best finish of 14th [Daytona, Atlanta]. Allmendinger said, “Homestead is a little bitter sweet for me and this Valvoline team. We’re looking forward to going down there and getting another strong run but it’s also our last race together. I’ve worked really well with this team and Gillett Evernham Motorsports and think we’ve had some good showings over the past couple weeks.”(GEM PR), see an image of the scheme on my #10 Team Schemes page.(11-12-2008)
  • Knaus named Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race in Phoenix: Chad Knaus, Crew Chief for the winning #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, was named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race in Sunday’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Lightening quick pit stops helped ensure Johnson stay near or at the top of the running order all day in the Valley of the Sun. The team started from the pole, led the most laps and cruised to the victory, extending their championship point lead to 141 over Carl Edwards. Johnson needs to finish 36th or better in this weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture the team’s third consecutive Sprint Cup Series championship. Also at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, Wypall will announce the 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year during a press conference in the track’s media center at 5:45pm on Friday. The winner will be presented a check for $20,000.
    The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge was a season-long contest that determined the best crew chiefs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel voted to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It wasn’t necessarily the crew chief that went to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team.
    Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, made up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief received signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. For more information about the Wypall Wipers program, log onto www.Wypall.com.(11-12-2008)
  • Childress named NCMA Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award: Richard Childress will be the recipient of the North Carolina Motorsports Association’s Tribute Award at the group’s annual awards banquet on January 26, 2009, at the Embassy Suites Resort and Conference Center in Concord, NC. Childress is celebrating his 40th year as a NASCAR team owner in 2008, having amassed 11 championships, two Daytona 500 and two Brickyard 400 victories in addition to a lifetime of achievements on and off the track in his home state of North Carolina. As both a driver and team owner, Childress has been an integral part of NASCAR’s highest level of racing for five decades. His career as a driver spanned from 1969 to the middle of 1981 when he made the tough decision to step down as a driver but to remain a team owner with driver Dale Earnhardt. He built up his team and achieved his first Cup Series victory in 1983 with driver Ricky Rudd. Then in 1984, Earnhardt returned as Childress’s full-time driver, and together they went on to win six championships between 1986 and 1994. Still competing for championships to this day and continuing to grow, as Richard Childress Racing (RCR) will expand from a three-car to four-car operation in 2009, Childress is truly one of the most accomplished professionals in motorsports.
    An avid hunter and outdoor conservationist, he contributes annually to the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation and has been a longtime supporter of the Winston-Salem Soap Box Derby. In July, he teamed up with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to form the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma – creating what will become the nation’s most comprehensive institute for pediatric trauma. In 2004, Childress was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Jim Hunt, the state’s highest honor, and in May he was inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. His passion for fine wine led to the founding of Childress Vineyards, a Napa Valley-influenced winery that produces quality North Carolina wines in Lexington, N.C. — not far from his RCR race shop. Other winner’s of the NCMA’s Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award include Richard Petty and Benny Parsons. Additionally, winners of awards in 10 distinct categories will be determined by an NCMA member vote.(NCMA PR)(11-12-2008)
  • Richard Petty stamps: Premier Postage, a leading provider of officially licensed postage and collectibles, announced an agreement with Petty Enterprises to introduce a series of U.S. postage that honors the career of NASCAR legend Richard Petty. “We feel privileged to be working with a racing icon,” said Mike Samora, Founder and President of Premier Postage. “The products we plan to introduce will represent the first time Richard Petty has been featured on real U.S. postage.”
    “This is really quite an honor,” said Petty. “I’ve had my photo on a lot of different things, but this is really unique. What’s neat is that fans can collect the postage or use it on their mail.” The first postage collectible will pay tribute to Petty’s 50 years in NASCAR – both as a driver and team owner. The collectible will feature a limited edition postage stamp on a 5″ x 7″ commemorative photo sheet. Each sheet will retail for $7.99 on RaceStamps.comNASCAR.com Superstore, and select retail outlets.(PR)(11-12-2008)


    News from November 11, 2008

  • ESPN The Magazine: Joey Logano is one of ESPN The Magazine’s four finalists for “NEXT 2009.” Some of the posts there:
    Resource I: “Wait, what the heck is NEXT?”
    Resource II: “Why should Logano be NEXT?”
    Resource III: “But how do I vote for Joey?”
    The fan voting for NEXT runs thru Monday, November 17.
  • Testing at the Rock: #2-Kurt Busch, crew chief Pat Tryson and crew tested their “PRS-565” Miller Lite Dodge Tuesday (11/11) at the “Little Rock,” the new half-mile track just outside the backstretch of the one-mile oval at Rockingham Raceway Park. “We’ve been saying that we’re already focusing on getting our total program ready for ’09 and this is an example of our commitment to doing that,” Pat said. “We get back to the short tracks only five races into the season next year so it’s never too early to be working on that end of the deal. This also gives us the opportunity to work with new components and try stuff out.”(Tom Roberts PR)
    AND Colin Braun tested at the one-mile track at Rockingham Raceway Park for Roush Racing, no word if it was for Cup, Nationwide or Trucks.(11-11-2008)
  • Auto Club/AAA sponsoring Hornish in select 2009 races: Penske Racing announced the establishment of a multi-year agreement for its Sprint Cup Series program with the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) and its affiliated clubs. Starting in 2009, the Auto Club will be displayed as primary sponsor for select events on the Penske Racing South #77 Dodge, driven by three-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series. Hornish will debut the #77 Auto Club Dodge in February at the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif. In addition, the motor club will serve as primary sponsor of the #77 Car in Sprint Cup Series events at Kansas Speedway in October and Texas Motor Speedway in November, and as co-primary sponsor for Hornish and the Car #77 team, alongside Penske Truck Rental, at the April Talladega Superspeedway and June New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Series races.(Penske Racing PR)(11-11-2008) Comment here
  • #78 Team plans limited 2009 schedule: Announced today [11-11-2008], Furniture Row Racing is planning a limited 2009 schedule for their Sprint Cup Series team and Car #78 driven by Joe Nemechek. “This has nothing to do with our on-track performance,” said Team President, Joe Garone. “This is simply a business decision by Furniture Row of balancing priorities in a tough economy and, from all appearances, looks to be getting even tougher.” In only its third year as a Sprint Cup Series team, Furniture Row Racing is coming off its best year, qualifying for 31 out of 35 races, earning a pole position at Talladega and having several strong finishes. As a privately-held entity, Furniture Row Companies – the team owner, primary sponsor, and one the nation’s largest furniture retailers – does not make its sales figures public. But the company is looking at retail sales trends and is tightening all expenses as a result. “Running a limited schedule is simply a cautionary measure,” said Tom Faulkner, President of Furniture Row Companies. “While we’ve been faring significantly better than most in our category, it’s no secret that our business is tied to the health of the economy – in particular, housing starts and real estate sales.” No additional announcements regarding team staffing or any other infrastructure or organizational changes are being made at this time. Garone added: “We’ve got some tough decisions to make, but we all know it will take fewer people and resources to run a limited versus full schedule. But we’re also optimistic that our best days are still ahead of us.”(Furniture Row Racing PR)(11-11-2008) Comment here
  • Petty Enterprises Renews Partnership with PVA: Petty Enterprises announced that it has extended its partnership with the Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) through the 2009 Sprint Cup season. “Our membership has been behind this program from day one and we’re excited to continue this into 2009,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America’s National President, Randy L. Pleva, Sr. “Our partnership with Petty Enterprises has been great for Paralyzed Veterans. We’ve seen an increase in awareness about our mission since we aligned with ‘The King’. In 2009, we will be featured on two races on July 4th (Daytona) and Veterans Day (Texas), two of the most patriotic dates of the year. Our continued partnership with Petty Enterprises and Richard and Kyle Petty will continue to raise awareness of the mission of Paralyzed Veterans and in return increase support and donations and give increased visibility to the men and women who serve our country.”
    The Petty-Paralyzed Veterans partnership began in 2006 with ‘The King’ Richard Petty. Over the span of the partnership, Petty has made numerous trips to VA Hospitals across the country, hosted Paralyzed Veterans members at racetracks and attended fundraising events—all in an effort to increase awareness of the altruistic organization. In 2008, the relationship grew to include NASCAR driver Kyle Petty. In 2009, both Pettys will co-chair the “Go All In for Veterans” Texas Hold’em poker tournament to be held on Thursday, February 26 at the Rio in Las Vegas. Please visit www.pva.org for more info.(MCG Sports/Petty Enterprises PR), no car# or driver mentioned for the two race sponsorship, PVA was on the #45 Dodge for three races in 2008.(11-11-2008) Comment here
  • Woods and HOF? UPDATE: Len and Eddie Wood [#21 Ford] say they’ve got their sponsorship deals in place for 2009, with Ford Motor Company and Motorcraft. But they are noncommittal about reports that the six team owners of the one-car Hall of Fame Racing operation (which runs #96 and is officially owned by Jeff Moorad,) are negotiating with the Woods to become Ford partners next season [Jayski Note: Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Bill Saunders and Mark Griege are no longer part of the ownership group on the #96 as of about a month ago]. Ken Schrader, a former driver for the Woods, is the Moorad team’s current driver. Moorad has been running a Toyota operation this season, with engineering support from Joe Gibbs; but that support contract is apparently up at the end of this season.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-27-2008)
    UPDATE: A relationship with the legendary #21 Wood Brothers and Ford is an option for the #96 team owned by Arizona Diamondbacks’ executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel. “It’s fair to say we’re assessing all of our options,” said Moorad. “We should know in the next couple of weeks. Our intention is the 96 continues, but we’re open-minded. We’ve talked to a couple of teams about some interesting merger possibilities and yet we may be in business on our own.” The team currently gets its Toyota chassis and engines from Joe Gibbs Racing, a deal that expires at season’s end. Multiple sources told The Republic it’s not expected the #96 will continue with Toyota. The Wood Brothers have long been with Ford.(Arizona Republic)(11-11-2008)Comment here
  • BDR unsure of future Cup plans UPDATE: Car owner Bill Davis [#22 Toyota] has been open to selling part of his team to an investor – or even more – but all he has to show are “a couple of near misses.” The economy is making it more difficult to close a deal with banks less likely to lend large sums of money. “Money availability seems to be the problem,” he said. With the season coming to a close, Davis is uncertain of his team ‘s future. He started the year with two cars but Jacques Villeneuve was unable to get sponsorship and the second car quickly went away. Caterpillar leaves as sponsor for Dave Blaney’s team to join Richard Childress Racing and Davis hasn’t found a replacement. ” I’m an optimistic person, but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s pretty tough times out here. There are not a lot of sponsors.”(Virginian-Pilot)(11-9-2008)
    UPDATE: Team owner Bill Davis said this weekend that a possible merger involving his Sprint Cup Series team has fallen through. Widespread reports in recent weeks had Davis negotiating with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports majority owner George Gillett about a merger or outright purchase of Bill Davis Racing’s Cup operation, with a possible move by Gillett-Evernham to the Toyota camp. Sources told Sirius Speedway this weekend that Gillett has been unable to secure financing for the deal, and that talks have now stalled. Davis did not comment specifically on a rumors of a merger with GEM, but admitted that he thought he had a potential merger done recently, only to have it fall through.(SIRIUS Speedway)(11-11-2008) Comment here
  • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Checker O’Reilly 500 at Phoenix:
    Total number of commercials: 120
    Total number of companies or entities advertised: 61
    Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 24
    Start time to record race/commercial periods: 3:45 PM
    End time to record race/commercial periods: 7:55 PM
    Total minutes: 250
    Minutes of race broadcast: 197
    Minutes of commercials: 53
    Number of broadcast stations for the east coast for the race: 2
    Number of missed restarts on the east coast: 0
    Number of missed restarts on the west coast: 1
    Number of rain-in-the-desert red flags: 1
    Number of rain-delay driver/crew chief interviews: 7
    Number of ‘mystery cautions’ (debris not shown): 1
    Total race brdcst time 197 Total comm. brdcst time 53
    See more on my TV Commercials page.(11-11-2008) Comment here


    News from November 10, 2008

  • Phoenix Overnight TV Ratings same as 2007: ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.4 with a 6 share, the same rating as in 2007. This only covers up to when ABC stopped airing the race at 7:28pm/et and showed the remainder of the race on ESPN2 [in the eastern and central time zone]. No word what the ESPN2 numbers were. See past 2008 races and Ratings news on my 2008 TV Ratings and Chart page.(11-10-2008) Comment here
  • Montoya turns down F1: Team boss Franz Tost sounded out whether Juan Pablo Montoya, a winner of seven Grand Prix, might be interested in returning to F1 with Toro Rosso in 2009. Montoya, 33, was a frontrunner with Williams and McLaren until a drop in form in 2006 led to his switch to NASCAR. But with Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost needing to fill Sebastian Vettel’s seat, the Austrian admitted he looked into whether Colombian Montoya might be ready to return to the series. “Unfortunately he no longer wants to be in Formula One,” Tost is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.(F1-Live.com)(11-10-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR to ban testing? NASCAR executives are moving toward perhaps a virtual ban on all testing through the early months of 2009, until the economy settles down, according to NASCAR teams. That’s a reversal of the plan just a few months ago to open up testing for 24 days per team at Sprint Cup tour tracks. Currently teams can test en masse at seven official NASCAR tests at Cup tour speedways. And teams can test anywhere else at any time. NASCAR could bar teams from testing at any NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, such as Kentucky.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-10-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR chairman Brian France at PIR: NASCAR chairman Brian France said Sunday that the sanctioning body will become more aggressive about cutting costs in difficult economic times, but he gave few specifics about how the sanctioning body plans to do it. France said he and NASCAR president Mike Helton have met recently with executives for all four car manufacturers in the sport — General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota — to discuss the financial problems that are hurting each company. Teams are losing sponsorship, and some Sprint Cup operations may be forced to shut down if they fail to work out a merger with another organization. But France emphasized that NASCAR is not in position to offer any direct bailout. NASCAR teams are independent contractors, not franchises as in other professional sports league like the NFL or the NBA. But France said NASCAR officials are involved behind the scenes in trying to ensure the teams stay afloat. France emphasized that NASCAR won’t make dramatic changes because of the economic woes across the country.(ESPN)
    See the full transcript on Jayski.com – Transcript: Brian France at PIR.(11-10-2008) Comment here
  • No one wants to talk about possible mergers: If teams are talking to others in the garage area about merging, the owners and executives weren’t talking about it Sunday in the Sprint Cup Series garage. “I can save you a lot of time here – I can’t talk about any of this,” said Chip Ganassi, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix International Raceway. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, but I can’t talk about all this stuff.” Ganassi’s team reportedly has been in talks with Petty Enterprises and Dale Earnhardt Inc. – two teams that also have reportedly been in discussions with each other.
    Petty Enterprises [#43, #45] CEO David Zucker politely declined to talk about any merger possibilities.
    DEI [#01, #1, #8, #15] President Max Siegel wasn’t at the race track. “We are having multiple discussions about ways to sustain a strong racing program,” Siegel said via e-mail. “We will make an announcement about our future plans in the next two weeks.”
    Hall of Fame Racing [#96] and Wood Brothers Racing [#21] also have been mentioned as potential candidates for mergers. “We’re working hard to make sure that we’re [here and competitive] – that’s what we’re working hard to do,” Hall of Fame Racing co-owner Tom Garfinkel said. “I hesitate to put a timeline on it because it’s not all within my control.”
    Bill Davis Racing [#22] said Saturday that he thought he had a potential merger done but it didn’t look like it would happen.
    Robby Gordon [#7] said his team is not involved in any of the merger talk.(SceneDaily)(9-10-2008) Comment here
  • Chevy clinches Manufacturers Championship: Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe’s Impala SS, did exactly what he set out to do at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) Sunday – collect the maximum amount of points possible in his quest for his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship (NSCS). His victory, the seventh of the season for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, clinched the 32nd Manufacturers’ Cup for Chevrolet in NSCS competition. “On behalf of the men and women at General Motors,” said Terry Dolan, Manager, Chevy Racing. “It is an honor for Chevrolet to clinch our 32nd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Cup title. It is a proud achievement based on a come-back run for the title given the tough competition we face every week on and off the race track. “This championship has been earned through the perseverance and dedication of Team Chevy’s drivers, owners and crews with the collaboration of our GM Racing engineers. We look forward to carrying the momentum of achievement in to the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.”(GM Racing PR), see the rules, standings, drivers with most manu points, history and more on my 2008 Manufacturers Page.(11-10-2008)
  • Two developers halt plans near NASCAR hall: In a sign of the faltering economy, two developers have pulled out of land deals that city officials hoped would help pay for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. City staff members say the broken contracts will not hurt the NASCAR hall, however, because of safeguards that ensure it has secure funding and is built on time. They also believe that when the real estate market gets better, the city will have no trouble selling the land. The land deals were on two parcels that will become available once a redesign of the Interstate 277 interchange at South Caldwell Street is complete next year. The city plans to sell a total of five such parcels – about 12 acres – and estimates it will pull in about $60 million from the sales. Some of the money will pay for the road construction, and $20 million is committed to the NASCAR hall.(Charlotte Observer)(11-9-2008)
  • Johnson Needs 36th-Place Finish to Clinch at Homestead: Jimmie Johnson’s third consecutive championship is well within reach, needing to finish 36th or better in next Sunday’s season finale Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch. Even if second-place Carl Edwards wins and leads the most laps – a 195-point day – Johnson would clinch with the 36th-place finish. Additionally, Johnson can clinch by finishing 37th and leading at least one lap or 39th and leading the most laps.(NASCAR PR)(11-10-2008)
  • Racing Resources Says …
    * Jimmie Johnson won the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. He posted his 40th career series victory in his 254th career race. Johnson posted his seventh victory in 2008, second behind Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, who each have eight wins in 2008. Johnson’s last victory came at Martinsville in October, three races ago. He posted his third straight win at Phoenix. Johnson posted his ninth top-10 finish in 11 races at Phoenix. Johnson won the race from the first-place starting position. This marked just the second time in 25 series races at Phoenix that the race was won from the pole. Johnson posted his 14th win in 49 Chase races. He posted his 30th career superspeedway victory in 170 superspeedway races. Johnson led three times for 217 laps, including the final 95.
    * Chevrolet has clinched its sixth straight Manufacturers’ championship, and its 32nd overall.
    * Hendrick Motorsports posted its eighth victory in 2008: Johnson has seven, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won once. Hendrick Motorsports posted its sixth Phoenix series victory. Four of those wins came in the past four Phoenix races: Jeff Gordon in April 2007, Johnson in November 2007 and in both races in 2008.
    * Race winner and points leader Jimmie Johnson has scored top-15 finishes in the past 11 races, extending a streak that began at California in August. Johnson is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in the nine Chase races. Johnson has a 4.67 average finish in the nine Chase races.
    * Kevin Harvick (finished 7th), Greg Biffle (11th) and Clint Bowyer (12th) have each scored eight top-15 finishes in the nine Chase races.
    * Johnson and Biffle are the only Chase drivers to lead in eight of the nine Chase races. They were the only Chase drivers to lead at Phoenix.
    * Johnson has led in 28 of the 35 races this season, more than any other driver. He led 217 laps at Phoenix. Johnson has led 955 laps in the nine Chase races. Carl Edwards is second in Chase laps led at 489 laps.
    * With a 141-point lead (unofficial), Johnson will win the championship if he finishes 36th or better at Homestead no matter what second-place Carl Edwards does. Mathematically, only Johnson and Edwards can win the championship. The driver with one race to go in each of the four Chases has gone on to win the championship. This is the largest points lead ever with one race to go in the Chase.
    * The championship leader with one race to go has gone on to win the championship all but twice since 1975 (when the present points system was implemented). Alan Kulwicki was second, 30 points behind leader Davey Allison in 1992, and Richard Petty trailed Darrell Waltrip by two points in 1979 — the closest points margin with one to go.
    * Johnson is in position to win three straight championships, a feat only accomplished once before: Cale Yarborough in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Johnson could become only the eighth driver to win three or more championships in NASCAR’s 60-year history. * Going into the final race there are only two drivers that can win the championship, just like in 2007. In 2004 and 2006 there were six drivers alive, and four drivers were alive in 2005.
    * No driver has ever won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup championships in the same year. Carl Edwards is alive to do both but remains second in both series.
    * Gordon has gone 40 races without a victory, his longest streak between victories. He posted his sixth DNF in 2008 and ended a streak of four straight top-10 finishes.
    * Jamie McMurray (third) has scored four top-10 finishes in the past five races.
    * Kevin Harvick has been running at the finish in the past 79 races, the longest current streak by any driver.
    * This was the 11th win for Chevrolet in 2008. Ford and Toyota each have 10 and Dodge has four.
    * The top-10 consisted of four Chevrolets, three Fords, two Toyotas and one Dodge.
    * Seven of the top 10 finishers were Chasers.
    * Greg Biffle won the first two Chase races, Tony Stewart won at Talladega, Jeff Burton won at Lowe’s, Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas, Martinsville and Phoenix and Carl Edwards won at Atlanta and Texas.
    * Just two of the 12 Chase drivers earned lap-leader bonus points at Phoenix by leading at least one lap: Johnson and Biffle.
    * Six of the 12 Chase drivers changed positions after Atlanta.
    * Regan Smith (23rd) was the highest-finishing rookie-of-the-year contender.(ESPN)(11-10-2008)

  • News from November 9, 2008

  • Johnson wins at Atlanta: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway for his 7th win of the season and the 40th of his career after a Green-White-Checkered finish [added 1 lap]. Johnson just needs to finish 36th at Homestead win win his 3rd Sprint Cup Championship. #2-Busch finishing 2nd followed by #26-McMurray, #99-Edwards, #11-Hamlin, #88-Earnhardt Jr., #29-Harvick, #18-Busch, #31-Burton and #6-Ragan. There were 10 cautions for 55 yellow flag laps [and 2 red flags, one for rain and one for a big wreck] and 9 lead changes among 5 drivers.
    For race results, awards and more, see my Phoenix Race Results Awards Page.(11-9-2008)
  • UNOFFICIAL Chase Driver Points Standings [after Phoenix race 35 of 36]:
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 6561 [7 wins]
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 6420 -141 [8 wins]
    the following drivers are eliminated from the Chase
    3) #16-Greg Biffle 6358 -203 [2 wins]
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 6292 -269 [2 wins]
    5) #29-Kevin Harvick 6233 -328
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer 6226 -335 [1 win]
    7) #24-Jeff Gordon 6151 -410
    8) #17-Matt Kenseth 6091 -470
    9) #11-Denny Hamlin 6090 -471 [1 win]
    10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6087 -474 [1 win]
    11) #18-Kyle Busch 6080 -481 [8 wins]
    12) #20-Tony Stewart 6059 -502 [1 win]
    Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Phoenix.(11-9-2008)
  • UNOFFICAL Classic Driver Points Standings [after Phoenix race 35 of 36]:
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 5097 [7 wins]
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 5041 -56 [8 wins]
    3) #18-Kyle Busch 4878 -219 [8 wins]
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 4666 -431 [2 wins]
    5) #16-Greg Biffle 4638 -459 [2 wins]
    6) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4565 -532 [1 win]
    7) #29-Kevin Harvick 4516 -581
    8) #24-Jeff Gordon 4372 – 725
    9) #20-Tony Stewart 4344 -753 [1 win]
    10) #07-Clint Bowyer 4332 – 765 [1 win]
    11) #11-Denny Hamlin 4315 -782[1 win]
    12) #17-Matt Kenseth 4223 -874
    13) #6-David Ragan 4208 -889
    14) #9-Kasey Kahne 3935 -1162[2 wins]
    (11-9-2008)
  • Where did the 12 Chase drivers finish at Phoenix
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, WON from the pole
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 4th
    the following drivers are eliminated from the Chase
    3) #16-Greg Biffle 14th
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 9th
    5) #24-Jeff Gordon 41st DNF/engine
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer 12th
    7) #29-Kevin Harvick 7th
    8) #20-Tony Stewart 22nd
    9) #17-Matt Kenseth 15th
    10) #18-Kyle Busch 8th
    11) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6th
    12) #11-Denny Hamlin 5th
    (11-9-2008)
  • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Homestead:
    With one race to go, Ambrose moves up to 35th and Speed falls out but is only 17 points out of the 35th spot
    31) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis Racing: 2785 +147
    32) #41-Sorenson/Ganassi Racing: 2774 +136
    33) #66-Riggs/Haas CNC Racing: 2765 +127
    34) #7-Gordon/RGM: 2685 +47
    35) #47[was #00]-Ambrose/Waltrip Racing: 2655 ONLY 17 points ahead of 36th
    these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top-35:
    36) #84-Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2638, ONLY 17 points out of 35th
    37) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing: 2554 -101
    38) #10-Allmendinger/GEM: 2495 -160
    The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
    BUT with one race to go, the top-35 after Homestead, will be guaranteed a starting spot for the Daytona 500 and first five races of 2009.
    For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(11-9-2008)
  • Phoenix International Raceway Penalty Report:
    Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
    1 #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 21
    2 #7 Lug nut(s) not installed TE 31
    3 #44 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 44
    4 #17 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 44
    5 #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 44
    6 #12 Outside half pit box tire violation/Team member not in contact with the outside tire. PT 71
    7 #8 Lug nut(s) not installed MCI 99
    8 #24 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 263
    9 #24 Safety violation MCI 269
    10 #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 273
    11 #47 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    12 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    13 #9 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    14 #5 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    15 #77 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    16 #70 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 274
    17 #41 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 284
    18 #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 285
    PT – Pass through
    TE – Tail end of the longest line
    SG – Stop and Go
    OL – One lap
    ND – NASCAR discretion
    MCI – Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-9-2008)
  • Who got a lap back on each caution at Phoenix: (and their finish)
    Caution 1: no cars a lap down
    Caution 2: #19-Sadler
    Caution 3: no cars a lap down that are on the track
    Caution 4: #42-Montoya,
    Caution 5: #9-Kahne,
    Caution 6: #70-Sauter,
    Caution 7: #07-Bowyer,
    Caution 8: #17-Kenseth,
    Caution 9: #8-Martin,
    Caution 10: no free pass if 10 laps of less left in race
    (11-9-2008)
  • Johnson has the highest winning % of active drivers: With seven wins in 2008, #48-Jimmie Johnson has passed #24-Jeff Gordon on the all-time list for Cup Series win percentage. Overall, Johnson is eighth all-time in win percentage [drivers with over 100 starts]:
    1. Herb Thomas — 21.05% (48 wins, 228 starts)
    2. Tim Flock — 20.86% (38/187)
    3. David Pearson — 18.26% (105/574)
    4. Richard Petty — 16.89% (200/1184)
    5. Fred Lorenzen — 16.46% (26/158)
    6. Fireball Roberts — 16.02% (33/206)
    7. Junior Johnson — 15.97% (50/313)
    8. Jimmie Johnson — 15.75% (40/254)
    9. Jeff Gordon — 14.89% (81/544)
    10. Cale Yarborough — 14.82% (83 / 560)
    (stats from Racing-reference.info and NASCAR Statistics)(11-9-2008)
  • 2009 Crew Chief for Newman? UPDATE 3 car chief: hearing that #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew chief, Tony Gibson, will be Ryan Newman’s crew chief on the #39 U.S. Army Chevy Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2009.(10-21-2008)
    UPDATE: Longtime Richard Childress Racing team executive Bobby Hutchens confirmed Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway that he has a contract offer to become general manager at Stewart Haas Racing. “I have an opportunity with Stewart Haas,” Hutchens said as he walked through the garage toward pit road prior to the Dickies 500. “I’ll make a decision here in a couple days.” Several sources close to SHR, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — Hutchens’ current employer — told ESPN.com that Hutchens had already signed a contract with Stewart Haas, but Hutchens said otherwise. “Nothing is signed,” Hutchens said.(ESPN.com)(11-3-2008)
    UPDATE 2: hearing that Stewart-Haas Racing will make an announcement at Homestead-Miami Speedway about Newman’s crew chief and the general manager/competition director for the team.(11-7-2008)
    UPDATE 3: during SPEEDtv’s NASCAR Raceday, Wendy Venturini reported that #43 crew chief, Jeff Meendering, will be Tony Stewart’s car chief on the #14 Stewart-Hass Racing Chevy in 2009 and that rumor has it that Tony Gibson will leave DEI and be #39-Newman’s crew chief, plus bring along the complete #8 DEI pit crew.(11-9-2008) Comment here
  • Logano out of the #20..before he gets in? UPDATE denied: Let’s start the [ESPN] blog with a bang and throw out the latest rumor going around the Cup garage area. Will plans to have rookie Joey Logano replace Tony Stewart next season in the #20 Toyota change? Speculation is Joe Gibbs Racing officials are trying to work out a deal to get #1-Martin Truex Jr. from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to drive the #20 car next year. If JGR can’t get Truex, they might make a run at #2-Kurt Busch, who wants out of his deal with Penske Racing.
    A quick warning: Rumors are rampant these days in NASCAR because of the difficult economic times. So here’s another rumor: JGR president J.D. Gibbs is expected to arrive at Phoenix today and possibility address this issue to deny all of it. The Logano/Truex gossip started because of DEI’s tenuous situation right now on sponsorship, and growing concerns that the 18-year-old Logano might not be ready to race Cup full-time next year. But Home Depot, primary sponsor for the #20 Camry, already has invested tons of money in a marketing campaign for Logano [as well as diecast’s with Motorsports Authenics, see an image of the #20 Home Depot/Logano scheme on my 2009 #20 Team Schemes page].(ESPN blog)(11-8-2008)
    UPDATE denied: Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs reiterated on Saturday that Joey Logano will drive the #20 Toyota in 2009. “Everything he’s done up to now he’s done exceptionally well,” Gibbs said. “When you get to this level, everybody is really good.” Logano has failed to finish on the lead lap in the three Cup races he’s run this season, which has left the rookie with an average showing of 37th. In last Sunday’s Dickie’s 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, he was unable to maintain minimum speed on the racetrack. But NASCAR still allowed Logano to compete. “We threatened him within an inch of his life — just finish the race,” Gibbs joked. “It’s just going to take time.”(FoxSports)
    AND “For God’s sakes, please write that Joey Logano is driving the #20 car next year. … Unequivocally, Joey is in the 20. Please print that and tell everyone else.” Those words were uttered by a frustrated and angry Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs Sunday morning in the Sprint Cup garage at Phoenix International Raceway. Gibbs made the declaration after ESPN.com reported Saturday that Logano might be replaced next year by Martin Truex Jr. [or Kurt Busch] in the #20 Home Depot-sponsored car. Responding to the report, Gibbs said, “I don’t know where it started, where it came from, but it’s frustrating for everybody. You can’t just say stuff like that. That’s crazy talk. So for me, I would say, look, he’s in the car. It’s done. That’s been done a long time ago. The Nationwide stuff, he’s done a great job with it. Cup is harder. Hey, you’re going to have your struggles. All of our guys have. He’ll be fine. He’s going to be in good shape.”(SPEEDtv)
    AND II: The rumor that Joe Gibbs Racing wanted to postpone Joey Logano’s full-time entry into the Cup series until 2010 and put Kurt Busch or Martin Truex Jr. into the #20 next season was just that — a rumor. “I don’t know where that came from,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. “Joey Logano will be in the #20 next year.” Gibbs said he spent much of Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning explaining to reporters and sponsors that there was nothing to the rumor and that the team was completely behind the 18-year-old phenom.(ESPN)(11-9-2008)Comment here
  • Latest merger rumors: DEI picked up the 2009 option on #1-Martin Truex’s contract in August, but another rumor floating through the garage is that Bass Pro Shops, the primary sponsor of Truex’s car at DEI, may join Stewart-Haas Racing next year as the second sponsor for #39-Ryan Newman [Burger King is another rumored sponsor]. DEI has discussed merger possibilities with Chip Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises.(ESPN blog)
    Jayski update in mergers: hearing the possible DEI/Ganassi merger is not off [as was posted Friday, see #41 Team News page for the rumor] and is actually close to being done with Ganassi being the team ‘presence’ at the track with the deal waiting on GM’s [Chevy] approval. As for the Petty/DEI rumor? the manufacturer differences squashed that deal as Petty Enterprises would not switch to Chevy and DEI would not switch to Dodge.(11-8-2008)
    MORE – Ganassi talks: Chip Ganassi started 2008 with three Cup cars, but shut down the #40 team when no sponsor could be found. Reed Sorenson will leave the #41 after the end of this year to go to Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and even though Target is returning as that team’s sponsor no driver for 2009 has been named. Texaco/Havoline is also out after this year on the #42 driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, leaving that team with only half of next year’s races sponsored – at least so far. Now, one of the hottest rumors in the NASCAR garage is that Ganassi is talking to Dale Earnhardt Inc., Petty Enterprises and perhaps others about possible affiliations or mergers for 2009 and beyond. “Some of the rumors are true,” Ganassi said. “Some of the rumors are not.” He also said “we’re just waiting for a few other shoes to drop before we nail down a driver for the 41.” While he wouldn’t speak to further specifics, Ganassi said that in general terms racing is battling the same economic issues other businesses are. “Whatever business anybody is in right now, people think it is special for some reason,” Ganassi said. “The oil business is special because it’s the oil business. The car business is special because it’s in Detroit. Racing is special because it’s racing.”(Charlotte Observer)(11-9-2008) Comment here
  • BDR unsure of future Cup plans: Car owner Bill Davis [#22 Toyota] has been open to selling part of his team to an investor – or even more – but all he has to show are “a couple of near misses.” The economy is making it more difficult to close a deal with banks less likely to lend large sums of money. “Money availability seems to be the problem,” he said. With the season coming to a close, Davis is uncertain of his team ‘s future. He started the year with two cars but Jacques Villeneuve was unable to get sponsorship and the second car quickly went away. Caterpillar leaves as sponsor for Dave Blaney’s team to join Richard Childress Racing and Davis hasn’t found a replacement. ” I’m an optimistic person, but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s pretty tough times out here. There are not a lot of sponsors.”(Virginian-Pilot)(11-9-2008) Comment here
  • Elliott may come back for a few races in 2009 UPDATE 2 and Petty?: Q: You really think you’ll [Bill Elliott] be able to step out of the car for good at the end of this season? What if the Wood Brothers come knocking on your door again to maybe run a few more races for them again next season?
    Elliott: At this point in time, I don’t know. I think I’m just going to look at the next few races and see if I can help ’em out maybe, but it would just be a short-team deal. A few and that’s it. I think right now they’re trying to sell stuff, and they don’t really have a whole lot else going on. If we can turn around and get something going here — and keep it going — that’s one thing. If it’s gonna go and turn around and change directions on you, then no, I don’t want to do this anymore. We’ve been through some changes [at Wood Brothers Racing] and now we’ve kind of turned the corner a little bit. But there again, unless they can put several deals together, it’s gonna be tough on them boys anyway. You never can predict the future.
    As far as me ever runnin’ a full-time deal again? No, never. Would I run a couple first off? Yeah, maybe. But that would be it. And if they could find something to fill the void before the first of next year, I wouldn’t even do that. What I’m saying, I guess, is let’s get through the next few races — and then what they find out and what they come up with will be the determining factor.(NASCAR.com)(10-22-2008)
    UPDATE: Bill Elliott said Friday he is open to returning to the Wood Brothers team next season in a part-time role. Team co-owners Eddie and Len Wood remain in discussions with potential sponsors and also in talks about possibly merging with other teams. Their 2009 plans remain up in the air. “I like the group,” Elliott said of the Woods’ team. “I like all the guys they’ve put together here. It seems like we’ve finally got some things working. I’ll probably do a little bit [next year], but not a lot. I enjoy the driving part. I just don’t like the politics. Ford’s been good to me throughout the years. I still see a lot of fans that support me. I still have friends around the country I’m able to go see through this deal.”(SceneDaily)(11-8-2008)
    UPDATE 2 — Petty? Wood Brothers Racing is one of many teams in the Sprint Cup garage that’s examining any number of driver/sponsor/partnership options for 2009. One experienced veteran talking to the Wood Brothers about 2009 is Kyle Petty, who isn’t interested in a full-time ride, but would be happy to share driving responsibilities with one or more other drivers. Petty drove for the Wood Brothers from 1985-88, winning two Sprint Cup races and posting 19 top-five finishes. “Who wouldn’t want to drive for the Wood Brothers?” Petty said Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. “I drove for ‘em before. I like them. They’ve got a little bit of money. There’s a couple of guys who have a little bit of money. And you put one of your deals and one of their deals together, the next thing you know, you’ve got a pretty healthy team.”(Ford Racing)(11-9-2008) Comment here


    News from November 8, 2008

  • Happy Hour practice for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway is over:
    #11-Hamlin 129.898
    #8-Martin 129.636
    #9-Kahne 129.352
    #31-Burton 129.324
    #20-Stewart 129.213
    slowest: #84-Speed 126.143 and #96-Schrader 126.347
    incidents: none reported
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Phoenix Practice Speeds Page.(11-8-2008)
  • First Saturday practice for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway is over, the top 5 are:
    #29-Harvick 131.377
    #99-Edwards 130.957
    #48-Johnson 130.648
    #24-Gordon 130.544
    #12-Newman 130.336
    slowest: #96-Schrader 125.353 and #09-Marlin 126.966
    incidents: none reported
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Phoenix Practice Speeds Page.(11-8-2008)
  • Stewart named parade grand marshall for Fiesta Bowl: Two-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 38th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. As grand marshal, Stewart will not only lead this year’s Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade, but will also serve as a special guest at the 38th Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Monday, January 5, 2009, where he will participate in the pre-game festivities and coin toss. The 38th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade is scheduled for Saturday, January 3, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. in central Phoenix. This year’s theme, “Spirit of the Southwest,” honors the essence of Arizona’s breathtaking desert landscapes and unique cultural heritage. Reserved seating for the Parade is $25 and is available by calling the Fiesta Bowl Ticket Office at 480-350-0911 or by visiting www.fiestabowl.org.(True Speed Communications PR)(11-8-2008)
  • Speed/Red Bull to announced 2009 plans: Red Bull is expected to make if official next weekend at Homestead that Scott Speed will drive the #84 car next season. That’s been all but set, but Red Bull hasn’t made an announcement while Speed gained NASCAR approval at various sized tracks based on his performance.(Roanoke Times), been told the team will switch from the #84 to #82 for Speed, see images of the diecast car on my #82 Team Schemes page AND Speed is raising cash for the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) through a partnership with Muze Clothing, a Scottsdale-based company that helped Speed produce “Muffin Man” t-shirts, a design of his own creation. The charity t-shirts will go on sale November 3rd preceding the Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. More info on my Racing Charities page.
    .(11-8-2008)
  • Elliott may come back for a few races in 2009 UPDATE: Q: You really think you’ll [Bill Elliott] be able to step out of the car for good at the end of this season? What if the Wood Brothers come knocking on your door again to maybe run a few more races for them again next season?
    Elliott: At this point in time, I don’t know. I think I’m just going to look at the next few races and see if I can help ’em out maybe, but it would just be a short-team deal. A few and that’s it. I think right now they’re trying to sell stuff, and they don’t really have a whole lot else going on. If we can turn around and get something going here — and keep it going — that’s one thing. If it’s gonna go and turn around and change directions on you, then no, I don’t want to do this anymore. We’ve been through some changes [at Wood Brothers Racing] and now we’ve kind of turned the corner a little bit. But there again, unless they can put several deals together, it’s gonna be tough on them boys anyway. You never can predict the future.
    As far as me ever runnin’ a full-time deal again? No, never. Would I run a couple first off? Yeah, maybe. But that would be it. And if they could find something to fill the void before the first of next year, I wouldn’t even do that. What I’m saying, I guess, is let’s get through the next few races — and then what they find out and what they come up with will be the determining factor.(NASCAR.com)(10-22-2008)
    UPDATE: Bill Elliott said Friday he is open to returning to the Wood Brothers team next season in a part-time role. Team co-owners Eddie and Len Wood remain in discussions with potential sponsors and also in talks about possibly merging with other teams. Their 2009 plans remain up in the air. “I like the group,” Elliott said of the Woods’ team. “I like all the guys they’ve put together here. It seems like we’ve finally got some things working. I’ll probably do a little bit [next year], but not a lot. I enjoy the driving part. I just don’t like the politics. Ford’s been good to me throughout the years. I still see a lot of fans that support me. I still have friends around the country I’m able to go see through this deal.”(SceneDaily)(11-8-2008) Comment here
  • Hunt Bros Pizza & State Water Heaters hope to be back in 2009: There’s been a dearth of new companies coming into NASCAR recently. But Hunt Brothers Pizza (HBP), which joined with Haas-CNC Racing [#66 & #70] in what was termed a “sponsorship test” in 2008, apparently liked what it saw. “HBP plans on participating in the 2009 racing season,” says Malea Barron of Hunt Brothers PR firm Gish, Sherwood and Friends. “However, at this time, HBP has not signed a contract with a team.”
    Can current Haas-CNC driver Scott Riggs stay in the Sprint Cup Series by bringing his sponsor to a new team? Apparently State Water Heaters has some interest in that scenario. “We are still working on our plans for ’09,” says Jeff Storie, the brand manager for State Water Heaters. “Scott has been a great asset for us and many of our hard-working plumbing contractors have enjoyed spending time with him. I hope we can remain together next year but we haven’t reached anything final at this point.”(Long Island Press)(11-8-2008)
  • GM-Chrysler merger looks to be on hold: The possibility of a merger between General Motors and Chrysler appears to be on hold. Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management and GM have been in talks about a merger for weeks, according to people familiar with the talks. The effort in recent days, however, seemed to be getting in the way of GM’s efforts to secure financial assistance from the federal government. The UAW opposed the idea of a merger that would result in substantial job losses. Industry analysts have predicted a GM-Chrysler merger would result in 30,000 to 40,000 job losses at Chrysler and additional losses through the economy. While not specifically naming Chrysler, GM said today that “considerations of such a transaction as a near-term priority have been set aside.” Spokespeople from GM and Cerberus have not been commenting on the talks since they were first revealed publicly about a month ago. “GM has recently explored the possibility of a strategic acquisition that it believed would generate significant cost reduction synergies and substantially strengthen GM’s financial position in the medium and long term, while being neutral or modestly positive to cash flow even in the near term,” GM’s statement said. “While the acquisition could potentially have provided significant benefits, the company has concluded that it is more important at the present time to focus on its immediate liquidity challenges and, accordingly, considerations of such a transaction as a near-term priority have been set aside.” In response to GM’s statement, Chrysler issued its own that neither confirmed nor denied that it was part of talks to merger with GM. “As we have previously stated, Chrysler LLC neither confirms nor discloses the nature of its private business meetings, as many times they do not come to fruition,” Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said in a statement. Returning Chrysler to profitability continues to be the key focus of the management team,” Nardelli added. “We are significantly challenged by today’s economic environment and by the automotive industry’s unprecedented downturn. As an independent company, we will continue to explore multiple strategic alliances or partnerships as we investigate growth opportunities around the world that would aid in our return to profitability.”(Detroit Free Press)(11-8-2008)


    News from November 7, 2008

  • Johnson on pole at Phoenix: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Coor’s Light Pole for the Checker Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway with a speed of 134.725mph for his 6th pole of 2008 and 19th pole of his career. Johnson is now 26th on the all-time pole list. #26-McMurray will start 2nd followed by #2-Busch, #44-Reutimann. #88-Earnhardt Jr., #12-Newman, #24-Gordon, #11-Hamlin, #15-Menard and #8-Martin.
    The Go-or-go homers [non top 35 in owners pts] to make the race: #10-Allmendinger, #47-Ambrose, #96-Schrader, #45-Petty, #09-Marlin, #21-Elliott and #70-Sauter. Only one driver misses the race is #78-Nemechek.
    See qualifying order, results, pole progression and starting lineup on my Phoenix Qualifying/Starting Grid Page.(11-7-2008)
  • Where do the 12 Chase drivers start at Phoenix
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson on the pole, 1st
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 16th
    3) #16-Greg Biffle 31st
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 24th
    5) #24-Jeff Gordon 7th
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer 28th
    7) #29-Kevin Harvick 19th
    8) #20-Tony Stewart 29th
    9) #17-Matt Kenseth 34th
    10) #18-Kyle Busch 14th
    11) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5th
    12) #11-Denny Hamlin 8th
    (11-7-2008)
  • Phoenix Qualifying Fast Facts
    Jimmie Johnson won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with a lap of 26.721 seconds, 134.725 mph.
    This is his 19th pole in 254 Sprint Cup Series races.
    This is his sixth pole and 27th top-10 start in 2008.
    This is his first pole in 11 races at Phoenix International Raceway.
    Jamie McMurray (second) posted his seventh top-10 start of 2008 and his fourth in 11 races at Phoenix International Raceway.
    Kurt Busch (third) posted his seventh top-10 start at Phoenix International Raceway. It is his 10th in 35 races this season.
    Ragan Smith (21st) was the highest qualifying rookie.
    (NASCAR Statistics)(11-7-2008)
  • Qualifying Order for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway is posted. Go-or-go homers will qualify at the end of the session, once the top-35 drivers are done. The first of the top-35 drivers scheduled to go out is #66-Riggs, the final top-35 driver scheduled is #7-Gordon. The first go-or-go homer to go out [36th] is #09-Marlin, the final driver scheduled to qualify is #47-Ambrose. See the full qualifying order on my Phoenix Qualifying Page.(11-7-2008)
  • Friday practice for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway is over, the top five:
    #48-Johnson 132.871
    #5-Mears 132.861
    #88-Earnhardt Jr. 132.846
    #18-Busch 132.787
    #26-McMurray 132.533
    slowest: #09-Marlin 130.086 and #28-Kvapil 129.903
    See best speeds, average speeds, laps run on my Phoenix Practice Speeds Page.(11-7-2008)
  • Where did the non top-35 drivers practice at Phoenix International Raceway:
    if things stay the same, these drivers would make the race:
    #10-A.J. Allmendinger, 8th fastest
    #47-Marcos Ambrose, 30th
    #77-Sam Hornish Jr. 32nd
    #70-Johnny Sauter, 33rd
    #21-Bill Elliott [past champ 1988], 34th
    #45-Kyle Petty, 37th
    #96-Ken Schrader, 38th
    #78-Joe Nemechek, 42nd
    if things stay the same, these drivers would miss the race:
    #09-Sterlin Marlin, 43rd of 44 cars
    (11-7-2008)
  • 2009 Crew Chief for Newman? UPDATE: hearing that #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew chief, Tony Gibson, will be Ryan Newman’s crew chief on the #39 U.S. Army Chevy Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2009.(10-21-2008)
    UPDATE: Longtime Richard Childress Racing team executive Bobby Hutchens confirmed Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway that he has a contract offer to become general manager at Stewart Haas Racing. “I have an opportunity with Stewart Haas,” Hutchens said as he walked through the garage toward pit road prior to the Dickies 500. “I’ll make a decision here in a couple days.” Several sources close to SHR, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — Hutchens’ current employer — told ESPN.com that Hutchens had already signed a contract with Stewart Haas, but Hutchens said otherwise. “Nothing is signed,” Hutchens said.(ESPN.com)(11-3-2008)
    UPDATE 2: hearing that Stewart-Haas Racing will make an announcement at Homestead-Miami Speedway about Newman’s crew chief and the general manager/competition director for the team.(11-7-2008) Comment here
  • Hornish back to Indy Cars? UPDATE denied: Though #77-Sam Hornish Jr. again finished ahead of fellow rookie of the year contender #01-Regan Smith, padding his lead in the ROTY standings, rumors continue to swirl that Hornish Jr. could be headed back to Indy Cars next season.(Yahoo Sports)(11-3-2008)
    UPDATE: at Phoenix International Raceway Friday morning, #77-Sam Hoprnish Jr. denied he was leaving NASCAR and heading back to the IRL for the 2009 season and plans to be back in Sprint Cup in 2009 try to win races in the #77 car.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(11-7-2008) Comment here

  • Evernham selling interest in GEM: A fan approached Ray Evernham at the SEMA Show on Wednesday and asked what driver Reed Sorenson will bring to Gillett Evernham Motorsports next season. “I’m not getting a new driver,” Evernham said. “Gillett Evernham is getting a new driver. I’m not really involved there.” Evernham’s role as the minority owner at GEM has been reduced to almost nothing since June. Soon his minority ownership will be reduced to almost nothing as plans are in the works to buy out most of his remaining 20% interest in the organization he formed in 2001. “We’re working on that and hope to make some announcement shortly about where I’m going to be doing for the rest of my racing career,” Evernham said. Evernham hesitates to use the word retirement. He still plans to be actively involved in racing, whether it’s through his broadcast career with ESPN or other ventures he working on. He’s opening a new shop in the Lake Norman area Charlotte, N.C., that will serve as his headquarters. Does his future include owning another race team? “Let me think about that … uh, no,” he said with a laugh. Does it include a management role, such as the one he was offered with Stewart-Haas Racing? “Let me think about that too . . . uh, no,” Evernham said. Evernham doesn’t want a role that consumes his life as being an owner and crew chief did. He’s enjoying getting back to grassroots racing with the new fuel-injected cars he’s building and spending more time with his 16-year-old son.(ESPN.com)(11-7-2008) Comment here

  • Latest Ganassi merger rumor? Petty? UPDATE4 negotiations fell thru?:Trying to pin down the state of Petty Enterprises, under its new Boston Ventures’ management, and the future of the Chip Ganassi operation has been tough enough the last few weeks, but now the speculation of a GM-Chrysler corporate merger has thrown things into a real tizzy. Insiders at both the Petty and Ganassi Dodge camps say there is speculation that the two struggling teams may somehow merge, and that that speculation is fueled by the sense that fellow Dodge owner George Gillett, who has majority interest in Gillett-Evernham-Motorsports, is “99 percent” certain to jump to Toyota. Ray Evernham was Dodge’s mainstay in NASCAR racing, making such a move highly unusual. Dodge officials a few weeks ago denied such a change might be coming. One major complication for Dodge teams like Petty’s and Ganassi’s is that Gillett-Evernham has been a major Dodge engine operation. If Gillett moves to Toyota, then Dodge loses a very big player.(Winston-Salem Journal)(10-12-2008)
    UPDATE: hearing that a Ganassi-Petty Enterprises merger is still possible with Target being the sponsor for Bobby Labonte in the #43. With #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #44-Chad McCumbee as teammates and a possible 4th team with Kyle Petty running part time in the #45.(10-21-2008)
    UPDTE 2 – DEI?: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is negotiating with several organizations, including Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises. “We’re talking to a lot of different people,” Sabates said on Tuesday. “We’re keeping our options open. Obviously, the way things are going today with sponsors, unless you have the sponsors you can’t run. We only have a sponsor for the 41 car [Target] and the 42 [Wrigley’s Big Red/Juicy Fruit] for half a year. We’re looking at all possibilities.” DEI and Petty Enterprises are in similar situations. DEI has only the #1 car of Martin Truex Jr. fully sponsored for next season, with partial sponsors in line for the #8 and none for its other two cars. Petty Enterprises is looking for sponsors for the #43 and 44 that is expected to replace the #45. So how would a merger with DEI help Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates? “They have a sponsor for one and a half cars and we have a sponsor for one and a half cars, that makes three cars, doesn’t it?” Sabates said. “The same thing with Petty. They’ve got one car. There are other people out there, too.” The biggest stumbling block for DEI to merge with Ganassi or Petty may be manufacturer permission. DEI is under contract with General Motors to field Chevys and the other two are under contract with Dodge/Chrysler. The proposed merger between GM and Chrysler could help that situation, but there remain other obstacles on both sides. “Everything is up in the air,” Sabates said. “We’re just talking in theory. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t have anything concrete with anybody. And I’m not saying we will do anything.”(ESPN.com)(11-4-2008)
    UPDATE 3: An alliance is in the works that would combine the #s 1 and 8 Chevys at DEI with the #s 41 and 42 of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next season. The newly combined outfit would boast a lineup consisting of Martin Truex Jr., with Bass Pro Shops sponsorship, Juan Pablo Montoya, with Wrigleys sponsorship, and Aric Almirola. Ganassi still has a deal in place with sponsor Target, but it is unknown right now whether that will be for Almirola or for a yet-to-be-determined fourth driver. Ganassi could offer the presence of an at-track, hands-on owner, an important element that’s been missing at DEI since the death of its founder Dale Earnhardt. Ganassi won four titles in Champ Car and two titles as an owner in the IRL IndyCar Series, including this season. Ganassi’s current contract with Dodge extends through 2010. Given the economic climate and uncertainty of the Dodge program beyond 2009, the move would align Ganassi with Chevrolet for next year and beyond. Max Siegel, president of global operations declined comment on the report.(FoxSports)(11-5-2008)
    UPDATE4: hearing that DEI and Ganassi are not going to merge after meeting Wednesday and there was no deal and negotiations are off.
    BUT sources at PIR tell me that the deal is ‘not’ off’ and DEI and Ganassi still may be talking.(11-7-2008) Comment here
  • Bad Boy Mowers to Sponsor #22 in final two 2008 races: Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced that Bad Boy Mowers will take over the sponsorship of the #22 Toyota in Sprint Cup Series competition for the final two races of the 2008 season. The two-race sponsorship opportunity comes after BDR bids a final farewell to its long-standing sponsorship with Caterpillar, which began in 1999. “This seems to be the year of change”, said Bill Davis, whose CAT sponsored team won the Daytona 500 in 2002. “That’s the one thing about life and NASCAR, is that you can always count on change. We had a great run with CAT and we are thankful for its sponsorship of our team over the years. My wife and I have made many friendships that will last forever. Our team is happy to have those Bad Boy Mowers come on board for the last two races of 2008. We are heavy into 2009 planning and are sorting out sponsorship of our Toyota powered program for next season.” Bill Davis Racing competes in both the Sprint Cup Series and the Craftsman Truck Series. BDR continues to seek sponsorship for the 2009 season.(BDR PR)(11-7-2008) Comment here
  • Phoenix Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in all three NASCAR series will run the same tire codes at Phoenix this weekend, though those for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be branded “Goodyear Eagle,” while those for the Truck Series will be branded “Goodyear Wrangler” . . . this is the same combination of left- and right-side tires that Goodyear brought for Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams to run at Phoenix this past April . . . this is one of the more popular tire combinations in Goodyear’s 2008 tire lineup . . . in addition to Phoenix, teams in all three major NASCAR series have run this specific combination at Richmond and New Hampshire this season . . . teams in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series have also run this tire set-up at Milwaukee, Gateway, Indianapolis Raceway Park and Memphis this year . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Phoenix. The estimated pit window is every 75-80 laps, based on fuel mileage. Goodyear’s “Spirit of America” airship, based out of Carson, Calif., will be covering the NASCAR race weekend at Phoenix.(Goodyear PR), see codes, pressures and more on my Phoenix Race Info page or the 2008 Tire Notes page.(11-7-2008)
  • Texas TV Ratings flat: ABC’s live coverage of the Dickies 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway earned a final national rating of 3.7, the same as last year’s race that also aired live on ABC. The telecast averaged 5,889,504 viewers. Through eight races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, ABC’s ratings are basically even with last year, averaging a 3.7. Ratings for the males ages 35-54 demographic have seen an increase of four percent. ESPN2’s live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Texas earned a 1.2 household coverage rating, down from the 1.3 for last year’s race that also aired live on ESPN2. The telecast averaged 1,565,530 viewers. For the season, ESPN2’s ratings for the Nationwide Series are averaging a 1.5 and are up 7% from last year. See past TV Ratings for the races in 2008 on my 2008 TV Ratings News and Chart page.(11-7-2008) Comment here
  • First Diversity Apprentice named for MWR:: Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced that Josh Ray is the diversity apprentice selected from Toyota’s Technician Training and Education Network (T-TEN) alumni program. American Indian descendant and Oklahoma-native Ray will relocate to North Carolina to begin a one- year, technical position within the MWR organization, directly involved with the teams’ NASCAR participation beginning on Monday, November 10, 2008. The three-part position will include rotations with Michael Waltrip Racing’s tear down area, electronics department and also in the suspension department. After reviewing many applications from previous T-TEN graduates, Ray was chosen by the selection committee as one of three finalists to advance to the next round, which consisted of interviews with the Michael Waltrip Racing organization. Once the interviews were concluded and the final candidates were evaluated, Ray was awarded the opportunity of a lifetime – a one year apprenticeship with one of the most popular teams in NASCAR.(Toyota PR)(11-7-2008)
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts signs deal with NASCAR: O’Reilly Auto Parts and NASCAR announced an exclusive multi-year agreement for O’Reilly to become the Official Auto Parts Retailer of NASCAR. The agreement allows for O’Reilly Auto Parts to be an exclusive NASCAR partner and utilize NASCAR marks and marketing programs in store and in related media. As part of this agreement, O’Reilly will become a contingency sponsor for the competitors as well as provide season-ending awards in both the Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series. The O’Reilly Auto Parts “People, Service and Performance” Award recognizes the team effort made both on the track and in the pits. O’Reilly has been a longtime NASCAR industry participant. The auto parts chain is currently the title sponsor of six NASCAR events in 2008, including the O’Reilly 300 and O’Reilly Challenge Nationwide Series races both held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Tex. Additionally the company sponsors the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9.(NASCAR PR)(11-6-2008)


    News from November 6, 2008

  • Air Force leaving Wood Brothers? hearing that the Air Force sponsorship will leave the #21 Wood Brothers Ford and could be headed to either one of the Roush Racing teams [#’s 6,16,17,26,99] or Yates Racing [#28, #38].(11-6-2008) Comment here
  • Humpy Wheeler Wins Two Awards from the University of South Carolina: H.A. (Humpy) Wheeler, legendary auto racing promotor, will receive two prestigious awards from his alma mater, the University of South Carolina on Thursday [11/6]. The first will be the “Pioneer Award” from the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management for his award winning work in sports promotion the last 50 years particularly the 33 years he served as president of both Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., the first motorsports company to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. The second award will honor him as the “Outstanding Alumni” at the Summit Club by the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and will be presented by current Dean and former CNN correspondent Charles Bierbauer. Wheeler is a 1961 journalism graduate of USC where he was a member of the football team, the Block C Club, Blue Key Honorary Society, Dean’s List and Sigma Chi. He was also an outstanding amateur boxer with a 40-2 record and is a member of the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame. Wheeler, known throughout the world of sports for his unique and creative promotions, left Speedway Motorsports and Lowe’s Motor Speedway last May after his 33rd Coca Cola 600 and formed The Wheeler Company with his son Trip and daughter Patti. The Wheeler Company is a management consulting operation primarily focused on providing innovative promotional and developmental ideas in the areas of professional sports, motorsports and general business A member of nine halls of fame including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Wheeler has won a bevy of national and state awards for his work in auto racing as well as civic endeavors and has been honored by three North Carolina governors for his work with his home state. The Pioneer in Sport and Entertainment Award recognizes an individual for an innovative contribution in the fields of sport, entertainment or venue management. This recipient has pioneered an idea, strategy, program or product that has altered the way our industry does business and resulted in an achievement generally recognized for its long term significance.(NASCAR PR)(11-6-2008)
  • New Crew Chief for McMurray in 2009 UPDATE2: from a Detroit Free Press article by NASCAR Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush: “By the way, Jamie [McMurray, #26 Ford after his 1st top-5 in over a year] did the job at Charlotte [in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway], finishing fifth. We’ll be looking to 2009 with a new crew chief for him — mix up the chemistry again”.(Detroit Free Press), so looks like current #26 crew chief, Larry Carter, will not return to the #26 team and McMurray in 2009.(10-17-2008)
    UPDATE: hearing that McMurray will reunite with his former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo and Carter could be headed to Yates Racing as the crew chief for Paul Menard.(10-18-2008)
    UPDATE2: “I am all for the crew chief change because I’ve worked with the crew chief in the past,” McMurray said of bringing in veteran Donnie Wingo. “He’s like my best friend, and ever since I left Ganassi, I have remained very good friends with Donnie. “The whole time I was at Ganassi, I can remember seeing crew chiefs that had an engineering background and thinking in my head, ‘Damn, I really wish I had a crew chief with that background, because I think that would take me to that next level. Instead of running sixth to 12th, we’ll maybe contend for wins. But I didn’t realize how great I had it. I’ve missed Donnie ever since. Larry’s done a great job, but you kind of get used to working with someone, and I feel like everyone I’ve had since [Wingo], I’ve compared to my times with Donnie. And those were probably some of the best races for me. Next year, I think, should be my best year ever.”(ESPN.com)(11-6-2008) Comment here
  • Congrats – John Fuller: Comptroller at Hall of Fame Racing, John Fuller and his wife Tami welcomed a new member to the #96 Hall of Fame Racing team yesterday [Wednesday] evening as Allison Mae Fuller was welcomed into the world at 5:58pm. Allison weighed 7 lbs. 14 ounces and her length was 21.5 inches. Mother and daughter are doing very well.(11-6-2008)
  • Cheez-It colors for the #5 at Phoenix: Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway will mark the final 2008 race in which Cheez-It will adorn the hood of the #5 Chevrolet of Casey Mears. Cheez-It has been the co-primary sponsor on the Chevy in three races this season — Texas [April], Pocono [Aug], and Auto Club Speedway. Cheez-It will return to the hood of the #5 Chevy [with Mark Martin as the driver] for select races in 2009. Sponsor CARQUEST and Brakes Plus are participating in the KNIX Radio “Million Can Crusade,” a Phoenix-area canned food drive to benefit the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Twelve CARQUEST locations will serve as official drop-off points, while Brakes Plus will run the program at 13 of its branches. Visit www.knixcountry.com for more information.(HMS PR), see images of the scheme of my #5 Team Schemes page and my 2009 #5 Team Schemes page.(11-6-2008) Comment here
  • Congrats to McMurray: Ladies, Mr. McMurray is officially off the market. #26-Jamie McMurray told me [ESPN’s Marty Smith] Tuesday he proposed to longtime girlfriend Christy Futrell.(ESPN.com)(11-6-2008)
  • Delphi Continues with Hendrick Motorsports & JR Motorsports: Delphi announced that it will continue its major associate sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports during the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. In addition, Delphi will be the primary sponsor for seven Nationwide Series races with JR Motorsports next year. The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas. Delphi will be the primary sponsor for one Nationwide Series race with driver Tony Stewart in the #5 Delphi Chevy fielded by JR Motorsports. Additionally, Delphi will be the primary sponsor for Brad Keselowski in the JR Motorsports #88 Chevrolet for six Nationwide races in 2009. The race details will be announced in the near future. Delphi also will be an associate sponsor of all 2008 Hendrick Motorsports 2009 Spring Cup entries. Delphi will continue to be featured on the uniforms of all Hendrick Motorsports drivers for the 2009 season, including four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, two-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. For more information about Delphi’s involvement in motorsports, visit www.delphi.com/about/motorsports.(Marketwire.com)(11-6-2008)
  • Chase Notes going into Phoenix: Chase Frontrunner #48-Jimmie Johnson’s amazing run of consecutive top 10 finishes in The Chase came to an end at Texas at 12, dating back to last season. In fact, Johnson’s 15th is his worst Chase finish since a 24th in race #4 of 2006 at Talladega. That’s how strong and consistent this team has been. Still, the #48 holds the largest lead with two to go in the five-year history of The Chase. It’s not that #99-Carl Edwards and #16-Greg Biffle aren’t good at Phoenix. It’s just that Jimmie Johnson has been terrific there, winning the last two races at PIR, four straight top 5s and six straight Top 10s. Edwards carded a fourth the last time out at PIR and Biffle had a second in the fall race last year. #18-Kyle Busch’s sixth at Texas moved him ahead of #88-Dale Jr. and #11-Denny Hamlin for 10th place, but he stands only one point ahead of Jr. and three ahead of Hamlin for the ‘chase’ to the stage at the Waldorg in NYC, only the top-10 drivers go to MYC and are on the stage. See more stats and history of the chase on my Chase Stats after Texas page and 2008 Chase News/Rules page.(11-6-2008)
  • McDonald’s Partners With #10 GEM Team at Phoenix: It will be a weekend of firsts for the #10 Dodge of A.J. Allmendinger at Phoenix International Raceway. For the first time since its partnership with Gillett Evernham Motorsports began, McDonald’s will be aboard the #10 Dodge. Allmendinger hasn’t started a Cup race at Phoenix in his 42-race career. He does have a 13th-place finish in his single Nationwide Series start at PIR last year. Sunday marks Allmendinger’s fourth race with GEM. In the first three races he’s posted the 16th most points of any driver. Only a late-race pit lane violation kept Allmendinger from moving even higher.(GEM PR)(11-6-2008)
  • Irwin paint scheme for McMurray at PIR: This weekend at Phoenix Internationak Raceway, Jamie McMurray will pilot his #26 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford Fusion for the last time this season. McMurray will participate in IRWIN Industrial Tools’ “Ultimate Tradesman Challenge” championship on Sunday morning. Over 10,000 tradesmen have competed in the challenge and this weekend the four North American finalist will compete for the title of North American Champion and will win an “ultimate” garage by Allied Steel Buildings and a Stage III Roush Performance Ford F-150. The competition will conclude with the North American champion and the Australian Champion competing for the ultimate prize – a shot at winning $1.26 million. IRWIN will also donate $10,000 to the Jamie McMurray Foundation.(RFR PR), see images of the #26 Team Schemes page.(11-6-2008)
  • Donated Petty Enterprises racecar gets Virginia Tech makeover: Race fans attending Virginia Tech’s Thursday night football game against Maryland are in for a treat. Virginia Tech motorsports research center VIPER Service will unveil a new color wrap — burnt orange and Chicago maroon – on one of the Nextel Cup racecars donated by Petty Enterprises earlier this year. The letters “VT” will replace the ubiquitous number “43” associated with racing legend Richard Petty. The car, sporting a Hokie Bird on its roof, will be on display from 4:30 until 7:30pm on the Drillfield as part of the university’s tailgate activities, according to Steve Southward, VIPER Director. VIPER, the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research facility, is one of several mechanical engineering (ME) labs at Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), an outreach partner of Virginia Tech. The VIPER Service vehicle also sports a new Dodge engine and other power-train components, so it is now ready to collect track data for research projects.
    Petty and son Kyle donated the car, and a twin, to the Virginia Tech Foundation for use by ME graduate students pursuing degrees at VIPER’s facilities in Halifax County and at IALR. The second car retains its original #43 decal and yellow, red and blue color wrap. “We wanted one of the cars to be a marketing tool for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, VIPER Service, and Virginia Tech,” said Southward. “And the best way to do that was put a new wrap on it.”
    Wrap is a literal term. Few racecars are painted nowadays, according to Southward. Rather, cars are “wrapped” in vinyl sticker sheets – some quite large in size – formed to the car’s body. The basic wrap design doesn’t include the myriad of sponsor stickers and other decals placed all over the vehicle. On the car’s sides, where the doors normally would go, are the letters “VT.” In place of the number on the roof is a Hokie bird. VIPER, the IALR, the Center for Vehicle Systems and Safety (CVeSS) at Virginia Tech, Virginia International Raceway and a list of other research labs and manufacturers will be represented by an assortment of stickers. A series of mechanical engineering equations and actual test data also adorn the car.(VT PR)(11-6-2008)
  • Kahne and Newman running USAC race: #12-Ryan Newman and #9-Kasey Kahne will take to the track in the Copper World Classic, Newman in the 25-lap Midget feature in the #39 Hot Pepper Promotions Drinan/Esslinger Ford (entered by the 2008 NEMA Midget Championship team of Massachusetts-based Bertrand Motorsports) and he will finish the night by entering the #192 DDK of Illinois Beast/Chevy from Joliet in the 100-lap Silver Crown event; Kahne will enter the Midget event and drive the #67x Kasey Kahne Racing/Seymour Paints Team ASE/Beast/Speedway Mopar.(azcentral.com)(11-6-2008)
  • Phoenix Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the November 2 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, scoring a 23rd-place finish. Hornish Jr. grabbed top rookie honors for the fourth consecutive race and for the 11th time in 2008. Sam Hornish Jr. leads #01-Regan Smith by four points (198-194) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the November 8 Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are the only Raybestos Rookies to win in 24 Sprint Cup races at Phoenix. Both wins came in the fall event: Stewart won from the pole in 1999, beating Mark Martin to the checkered flag by 2.081 seconds while Busch captured the 2005 event by .609 seconds over Greg Biffle. Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to lead the most laps in a race at Phoenix, leading the 1999 fall race three times for 150 laps. Three Raybestos Rookies have won pole positions at Phoenix, all coming in the fall race: Tony Stewart (1999), Casey Atwood (2001) and Ryan Newman (2002).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos) and see rookie history, notes, standings, rules on my 2008 Rookie Notes Page.(11-6-2008)


    News from November 5, 2008

  • RCR Reorganizes its Business Unit: Richard Childress Racing has reorganized its business unit to help strengthen the overall performance of the 11-time NASCAR championship-winning organization. Ben Schlosser has been promoted to the position of senior vice president, business operations. Schlosser joined RCR in April 2002 as director of corporate sales and sponsorships and was named vice president of marketing in 2004. In his newly expanded role, departments reporting to him will include partnership marketing, business development, communications, licensing, the RCR Racing Museum, and show car and promotions. “The purpose of this reorganization is to be more efficient for our sponsors and everyone involved in making RCR a success,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “Ben has a very good understanding of the business side of RCR so bringing the communications, licensing and show car departments under his supervision, along with the partnership marketing department, will allow all of those units to work together more seamlessly.”
    Bill Patterson has been named executive vice president, support services. Patterson began his fulltime tenure at RCR in 1983 and has been a part of all 11 of its NASCAR championships. The departments now under his direction will include finance and accounting, human resources, aviation, and facilities and maintenance. Additional responsibilities will include capital and major expenditures, driver contracts and other contract issues. “Bill has been an asset to RCR since the early 1980s and will continue to be moving forward,” said Childress. “His new responsibilities will allow him to focus more on RCR’s finances and accounting, which has always been important but is even more so in the current economic climate.”(RCR PR)(11-5-2008)
  • Layoffs at Hendrick, Johnson’s spotter included: During a modest round of layoffs Monday and Tuesday at Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson’s spotter, Stevie Reeves, was told he would not return to the #48 Lowe’s Chevy team next season, Reeves confirmed Tuesday night. Reeves and the Hendrick organization part on good terms. The spotter, who helped guide Johnson to his second consecutive Sprint Cup championship in 2007, has already been contacted by other teams and is weighing his options. “They wanted to give me plenty of time to find something before Homestead and not leave me hanging high and dry,” said Reeves, who will spot the final two races of the season for Johnson as he attempts to win a record-tying third straight championship. “Rick Hendrick knows how to treat people, and that’s what makes him so successful. Jimmie Johnson is a class act, and the only thing I regret is that I won’t be working with him next year, but I’m going to land on my feet OK.”(Sporting News)(11-5-2008) Comment here
  • Manufacturers’ Championships a three ‘car’ race: Only three points separate the top three outfits in one of the most hotly-contested Manufacturers’ Championships in history. With two races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Chevrolet leads the standings with 204 points, Ford has 202 and Toyota has 201. After the 26-race “regular season,” Chevrolet and Ford were tied for second in the Manufacturers’ Championship standings, 18 points behind first-place Toyota. But after combining for seven wins in eight Chase races, Chevrolet and Ford have vaulted into the top two spots. A Chevrolet has won the last six races at Phoenix International Raceway, while a Ford has won the last four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(NASCAR PR), see the Manufacturers’ Championship standings on my 2008 Manufacturers’ Championship page.(11-5-2008)
  • Johnson on The Tonight Show: Back-to-back Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday, Nov. 6. The show airs at 11:35pm/et on NBC.
  • Sadler’s #19 to be sponsored by Siemens at Phoenix: The #19 Dodge is racing with Siemens as the primary sponsor for Elliott Sadler for the weekend. The $96.6 billion electronics company’s 400,000 worldwide employees are improving America’s infrastructure through technology and innovation in Medical, Power, Automation and Control, Transportation, Information and Communications, Lighting, Building Technologies, Water Technologies and Services and Home Appliances.(GEM PR), see an image of the scheme on my #19 Team Schemes page.(11-5-2008)
  • Last race for Texaco: Texaco/Havoline will adorn the hood of the #42 Dodge Charger of Juan Pablo Montoya for the last time this season. This will be the final paint scheme for Texaco/Havoline Racing after 22 years in the sport.(CGRFS PR)(11-5-2008) Comment here
  • HOF Racing looking at changes in 2009, needs sponsorship: The new owners [Diamondbacks’ executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel] inherited a contract to get engines and chassis from Joe Gibbs Racing, which switched to Toyota from Chevrolet [after 2007]. Driver J.J. Yeley soon discovered he didn’t have the same equipment as Gibbs’ drivers Busch, Tony Stewart or Denny Hamlin. There wasn’t an exchange of technical information, as often happens between other teams with similar deals. “Hall of Fame Racing thought the relationship it had with Joe Gibbs Racing was better than it was,” Yeley said. “Because they thought they had a better product than they really did, it almost made them blind that they had a problem.” Garfinkel admitted, “We inherited a contract that didn’t have a lot of flexibility to it. It was more of a customer-supplier relationship than an alliance. We were hopeful we could evolve the relationship in that direction, and that didn’t take place.” Joey Logano, who takes over Stewart’s #20 Camry next year, drove the #96 twice and didn’t finish better than 32nd. “It was different than what I was used to driving after doing a lot of testing with Gibbs,” he said. Yeley struggled even after a crew chief change. “They (owners) started hanging that blame and pressure on me. I hope now they realize it wasn’t the driver. There were promises of big-name crew chiefs and a lot of testing. These were things we never really got to do.” Yeley didn’t qualify for four of 21 races, triggering a clause that reduced DLP’s sponsorship. He said he renegotiated his contract to free-up money and that about a half-dozen employees were let go with him. Garfinkel said the changes were performance related. Yeley won the prestigious 4-Crown USAC midget feature in September but isn’t entered in PIR’s Thursday night Copper World Classic. He hired a marketing firm and said about $12 million in sponsorship would get him into a Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy next season. The #96 isn’t fully sponsored for 2009, and there’s no new contract with Gibbs. “The team will be in a different sort of model next year,” said Garfinkel. “Jeff and I are going through different options.”(Arizona Republic)(11-5-2008) Comment here
  • Woman hit by stray bullet at Texas NASCAR race UPDATE: A NASCAR fan in her recreational vehicle at Texas Motor Speedway was wounded by a stray bullet after someone apparently fired a gun into the air, police said. A bullet suddenly pierced through the motor home’s roof Sunday morning before the Dickies 500 race, hitting a woman in the right arm, relatives said. “She immediately (screamed), ‘I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.’ She took off running out the door,” her son-in-law Bobby Cook told Dallas-Fort Worth television station KTVT. The 62-year-old woman, whose name was not released by authorities, was taken to a nearby hospital with a “significant wound” and was listed in stable condition, police Lt. Paul Henderson said Monday. The bullet is believed to be a rifle round and appears to have been fired from a long distance because it penetrated the roof at a slight angle, Henderson said. He said he did not have information on whether investigators had any suspects. Some 40,000 fans in about 10,000 to 10,500 recreational vehicles camped at Texas Motor Speedway for the weekend’s races, said TMS spokesman Mike Zizzo, who declined to comment on the shooting.(Associated Press)(11-4-2008)
    UPDATE: Fort Worth police are investigating reports from a 49-year-old Benbrook man who says he may be responsible for the stray bullet that hit an Arlington woman Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway. Kennith Jaramillo contacted Fort Worth police on Monday after hearing that Jill King Moss, 62, was hit in her arm by a .50-caliber bullet that pierced the roof of her RV, authorities said. Ms. Moss was taken to Harris Methodist Hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries. Given the bullet’s trajectory, Fort Worth police investigators believe the bullet came from a long distance away. Mr. Jaramillo told police he was target shooting five miles away from Texas Motor Speedway between 10 and 11 a.m, said Lt. Paul Henderson, a Fort Worth police spokesman. Mr. Jaramillo fired five or six rounds at a berm, a mound of dirt, with his .50-caliber Vulcan single shot rifle. Fort Worth police confiscated his weapon for ballistics tests. If tests confirm the bullet was fired from his weapon, Mr. Jaramillo could be charged with deadly conduct for recklessly firing a weapon, Lt. Henderson said. Mr. Jaramillo has not been arrested or charged in the incident.(Dallas Morning News)(11-5-2008) Comment here
  • Testing at Pikes Peak….cancelled: Kenny Wallace and the #28 U.S. Border Patrol/Jay Robinson Racing Chevy tested at Pikes Peak International Raceway on Monday, #7-Robby Gordon and team are scheduled to test at the track on Wednesday Nov. 5 in preparation for Phoenix. No word if testing is open to the public.(PPIR)(11-4-2008)
    UPDATE: been told that Gordon cancelled as the weather forecast is calling for rain.(11-5-2008)


    News from November 4, 2008

  • Osborne wins in Texas; Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year announced following Phoenix: Bob Osborne was named the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race in Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, setting up an historical three-man clash for the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year award during this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. Osborne gambled Sunday that his driver – Carl Edwards in the #99 Office Depot Ford – could run the final 69 laps (103.5 miles) on a tank of fuel. Osborne hit the jackpot as Edwards pulled off the win and gained 77 points on Sprint Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson. So Osborne, along with Chad Knaus, crew chief for the #48 team and driver Jimmie Johnson, and Steve Addington, Crew Chief for the #18 team and driver Kyle Busch, are tied with four “Crew Chief of the Race” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins with just one race to go (winner decided annually after Phoenix race). As with each week, the Crew Chief panel of Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team along with FOX/Speed Analyst Jeff Hammond, will vote on the winner. For this weekend’s race in Phoenix, Wypall Wipers representatives have confirmed that the voting will only be between the three tied at the top so this truly is a Winner-take-all situation for the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. Once the dust has settled at Phoenix and the votes are in, Wypall Wipers will hold a press conference in Miami announcing this year’s winner and will be presenting him with a check for $20,000. The event will be held on Friday night, November 14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge has been a season-long contest that has strived each week to determine the best crew chiefs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel (mentioned above) has voted to determine which Crew Chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(11-4-2008)
  • Busch to give 100K to Ard UPDATE: 23-year-old Kyle Busch dedicated his latest [Nationwide Series] win to South Carolinian Sam Ard, a two-time Nationwide -then called the Busch Series — champion suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and in tough straits financially. “Sam Ard was one of the pioneers of the sport and this really means a lot to me,” Busch said after his now-traditional victory bows to the crowd. “I got to thinking about it and I decided I’m going give him $100,000 to try to help him out.”(Associated Press/ESPN)(11-2-2008)
    UPDATE: Sam Ard was unsettled late Saturday night, unable to sleep as he peppered his wife about things he couldn’t remember. Were his parents still alive when he married Jo nearly 50 years ago? Were they doing a good job raising their children? “He asked me `What if I go back racing?’ ” Jo Ard said Monday. “I said `If you go back racing, I’m going to hand you divorce papers. Nobody is going to let you go racing.’ ” Ard’s racing days are indeed long over. He’s 69 years old and suffering from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. He’s not permitted to drive anywhere anymore, and no one is exactly sure how much Ard understands about the latest push to help his crumbling finances and mounting medical bills. Kevin Harvick, a champion of Ard’s plight, donated a 2007 Chevrolet van last month to Ard’s family that solved the transportation woes that plagued the couple since Jo’s car died five months ago. Then the NASCAR Foundation and Motor Racing Outreach teamed for an online auction to benefit the Sam Ard Fund. The largest gesture, though, came Saturday afternoon when Kyle Busch committed $100,000 to Ard moments after winning the Nationwide Series race. The win at Texas Motor Speedway tied Ard’s mark of 10 series victories in a season. Ard didn’t have a particularly long NASCAR career, but his three seasons netted him two championships in the second-tier series now sponsored by Nationwide. He never got rich from racing, and collected roughly 25% of the $378,765 he made in winnings before suffering severe head trauma in a 1984 accident. Unable to secure a consistent income after the accident, the Ards blew through their children’s college funds to cover everyday expenses. Unlike every other major professional league, NASCAR does not provide a pension to its participants [as they are consdiered independent contractors not NASCAR employees] and has not been on the hook for Ard or any other former driver facing financial difficulties. The NASCAR community has occasionally stepped in to help, and a 2006 plea to their peers by Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led to a significant donation to Ard’s care fund. That gesture and Ard’s fight were the centerpiece of a 2007 Associated Press examination of NASCAR’s indifference toward financially supporting its veterans. When Busch pledged his assistance, Jo Ard said the 23-year-old racer had no idea the magnitude of his gesture. She said she’ll use a chunk of the money to make their bathroom handicap accessible so Ard can use it alone. “Kyle doesn’t know what he’s done. He really, truly does not know what he’s done to take the load and the pressure off of me,” Jo Ard told The AP by telephone Monday. “We can do the bathroom. I can maybe get someone to come to the house and help me if I need them, because we’re here day in and day out because Sammy can’t be left alone. He falls. He can’t drive. He’ll tell you he feels fine, but every day is different.”(see full AP story at ESPN.com)(11-4-2008) Comment here
  • Sauter back in the #70 at Phoenix: Johnny Sauter will replace Tony Raines in the #70 Haas CNC Racing Chevy at Phoenix International Raceway. Sauter, who has three top-10s in 75 career Cup starts, has a pair of ninth-place finishes at the track but will need to make the race based on qualifying speed. “It’s been a good race track for me,” Sauter said. “It’s a place I always look forward to going. It’s a good short track. It races well for me. I relish the opportunity to go there.” Sauter started the 2008 season driving for Phoenix Racing in the Nationwide Series, but he and the team parted ways after five races. He has 12 Nationwide starts and eight Cup starts this year. Obviously still looking for a 2009 ride, Sauter hopes to find something in one of NASCAR’s three national series next year, including the Truck series, which he has never competed in a full-time basis.(SceneDaily)(11-4-2008) Comment here
  • Jim Beam & Robby Gordon to Auction Authentic NASCAR Hood for Troops: As Veterans Day approaches, racing enthusiasts and philanthropists will have a chance to bid on a unique racing collectible while supporting America’s service members and their families. Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM), in combined efforts with Jim Beam Bourbon, has kindly donated the special edition Jim Beam/ Operation Homefront race car hood to Operation Homefront for auction. RGM and Jim Beam created a special Operation Homefront paint scheme for the Richmond and New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series events in order to increase awareness of Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing emergency assistance and morale to U.S. troops and their families. To celebrate Veterans Day, they will run this paint scheme once more in Phoenix and will increase their commitment by auctioning off the hood to help raise funds for the organization. Jim Beam, the world’s No. 1-selling bourbon, formed an association with Operation Homefront earlier this year when it recognized the organization had the same commitment and values as the Jim Beam brand – true character, integrity and doing the right thing. The hood, autographed by Robby Gordon, will be auctioned off on eBay starting November 4 with the auction closing Veterans Day, November 11, just in time for holiday gift giving.(GMR Marketing PR), see images of the scheme on my #7 Team Schemes page.(11-4-2008)


    News from November 3, 2008

  • Texas overnight TV Ratings down a bit: ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Dickies 500 Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.4 with a 6 share. ABC earned a 3.6 overnight rating in 2007 for the race last year and a 3.7 final rating. See past TV Ratings for the races in 2008 on my 2008 TV Ratings News and Chart page.(11-3-2008) Comment here

  • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Dickies 500 at Texas:
    Total number of commercials: 119
    Total number of companies or entities advertised: 67
    Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 21
    Start time to record race/commercial periods: 3:30 PM
    End time to record race/commercial periods: 7:15 PM
    Total minutes: 225
    Minutes of race broadcast: 170
    Minutes of commercials: 55
    Number of missed restarts: 0
    Number of ‘mystery cautions’ (debris not shown): 1
    Total race brdcst time 170 Total comm. brdcst time 55
    See full report and more on my TV Commercial Page.(11-3-2008) Comment here
  • Hutchens has offer from Stewart Haas: Longtime Richard Childress Racing team executive Bobby Hutchens confirmed Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway that he has a contract offer to become general manager at Stewart Haas Racing. “I have an opportunity with Stewart Haas,” Hutchens said as he walked through the garage toward pit road prior to the Dickies 500. “I’ll make a decision here in a couple days.” Several sources close to SHR, Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. — Hutchens’ current employer — told ESPN.com that Hutchens had already signed a contract with Stewart Haas, but Hutchens said otherwise. “Nothing is signed,” Hutchens said.(ESPN.com)(11-3-2008) Comment here
  • Hornish back to Indy Cars? Though #77-Sam Hornish Jr. again finished ahead of fellow rookie of the year contender #01-Regan Smith, padding his lead in the ROTY standings, rumors continue to swirl that Hornish Jr. could be headed back to Indy Cars next season.(Yahoo Sports)(11-3-2008) Comment here
  • No further penalty for Gilliland: #38-David Gilliland swore that he didn’t mean to tag #42-Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 263 of the Dickies 500, but that didn’t mean that NASCAR didn’t penalize him. NASCAR parked Gilliland after the accident, which left Montoya fuming and with a torn-up race car. Gilliland didn’t tear up his race car, but NASCAR sat him for the rest of the race leaving him in 42nd while Montoya was 43rd. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said there will be no further penalties although both drivers likely will be talked to again prior to practice at Phoenix informing them not to keep the feud going on the race track.(Scene Daily)(11-3-2008) Comment here
  • Bruton Smith reaffirms desire to buy NASCAR: Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith gave his opinion on several pressing subjects [Sunday morning], including his long-standing desire to purchase NASCAR from the France family if the opportunity ever presented itself. “I stand by that,” he said. “And it’s getting closer.” For the record, the France family has given no indication of having any desires to sell the sanctioning body that patriarch Bill France Sr. founded 60 years ago.But Smith always likes to stir the pot and get people talking.(ESPN.comComment here
  • NASCAR to honor past champions at Homestead: Legends throughout NASCAR’s 60-year history will help crown the 2008 Sprint Cup Series champion during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On Nov. 16, the past champions will be honored as part of pre-race ceremonies prior to the season-finale Ford 400. Champions scheduled to appear include Bobby Allison, Kurt Busch, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, and Rex White. Other past champions, including those competing in the Ford 400, will also be honored during the pre-race ceremony.(NASCAR PR)(11-3-2008)
  • All repeat winners at Texas: It proved to be a Texas Trifecta this weekend. Every winner this past spring also won this weekend. On Friday, Ron Hornaday Jr. won the Craftsman Truck Series race. On Saturday, Kyle Busch won the Nationwide Series race. Edwards capped it off with Sunday’s win.(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)(11-3-2008)

News from November 2, 2008

  • Edwards wins at Texas: #99-Carl Edwards won the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his 8th win of the season and the 15th of his career and swept both Texas races this year.He took a fuel mileage gamble, running the final 69 laps of the race without pitting. #24-Gordon finished second, also gambling on fuel. #26-McMurray was third followed by #07-Bowyer, #16-Biffle, #18-Busch, #29-Harvick, #1-Truex, Jr., #17-Kenseth, and #44-Reutimann. Point leader #48-Johnson struggled through much of the race, finishing a lap down in 15th.There were 5 cautions for 26 laps and 16 lead changes among 9 leaders.
    For race results, awards and more, see my Texas Race Results Awards Page.(11-2-2008)
  • Johnson needs to average 7th to clich championship: Gutsy strategy earned Carl Edwards the win at the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and made it difficult for points leader Jimmie Johnson to clinch at Phoenix. Edwards’ victory slashed his deficit to Johnson, who finished 15th, by 77 – from 183 to 106. Johnson needs to leave Phoenix with a 196-point lead over second-place to officially clinch his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In other words, Johnson must beat Edwards by 90 points and third-place Greg Biffle by 52 at Phoenix to clinch (Johnson needs to finish 195 points ahead of Biffle to clinch because he owns the tie-breaker). Jeff Burton, 212 points back in fourth place, can also spoil Johnson’s clinch hopes by getting within that 195-point “magic number.” If Johnson leaves Phoenix with a 162-point lead, he would need only to start the season-finale at Homestead to clinch a championship. Under this scenario, Johnson has to beat Edwards by 56 and Biffle by 18. If Johnson finishes seventh or better in the next two races, he will clinch the title, no matter what any other driver does.(NASCAR PR)(11-2-2008)
  • UNOFFICIAL Chase Driver Points Standings [after Texas race 34 of 36]:
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 6366 [6 wins]
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 6260 -106 [8 wins]
    3) #16-Greg Biffle 6223 -143 [2 wins]
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 6154 -212 [2 wins]
    5) #24-Jeff Gordon 6111 -255
    6) #07-Clint Bowyer 6099 -267 [1 win]
    7) #29-Kevin Harvick 6087 -279
    8) #17-Matt Kenseth 5973 -393
    9) #20-Tony Stewart 5962 -404 [1 win]
    10) #18-Kyle Busch 5983 -428 [8 wins]
    11) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5937 -429 [1 win]
    12) #11-Denny Hamlin 5935-431 [1 win]
    Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Texas.(11-2-2008)
  • UNOFFICAL Classic Driver Points Standings [after Texas race 34 of 36]:
    1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 4902 [6 wins]
    2) #99-Carl Edwards 4881 -21 [8 wins]
    3) #18-Kyle Busch 4736 -166 [8 wins]
    4) #31-Jeff Burton 4528 -374 [2 wins]
    5) #16-Greg Biffle 4503 -399 [2 wins]
    6) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4415 -487 [1 win]
    7) #29-Kevin Harvick 4370 -532
    8) #24-Jeff Gordon 4332 -570
    9) #20-Tony Stewart 4247 -655 [1 win]
    10) #07-Clint Bowyer 4205 -697 [1 win]
    11) #11-Denny Hamlin 4160 -742 [1 win]
    12) #17-Matt Kenseth 4105 -797
    13) #6-David Ragan 4074 -828
    14) #9-Kasey Kahne 3811 -1091 [2 wins]
    (11-2-2008)
  • Texas Fast Facts:
    Carl Edwards won the Dickies 500, his 15th victory in 155 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
    This is his eighth victory and 25th top-10 finish in 2008.
    This is his third victory and third top-10 finish in eight races at Texas Motor Speedway.
    Jeff Gordon (second) posted his eighth top-10 finish in 16 races at Texas Motor Speedway. It is his 18th top-10 finish in 2008.
    Jamie McMurray (third) posted his sixth top-10 finish in ten races at Texas Motor Speedway.
    Sam Hornish Jr. (23rd) was the highest finishing rookie.
    Jimmie Johnson leads the point standings by 106 points over Carl Edwards.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-2-2008)
  • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Phoenix:
    No teams dropped in or out of top 35, but points do tighten some and the #84 team is now just 44 points ahead of the #47 team.
    The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
    33) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis Racing: 2682 +136
    34) #7-Gordon/RGM: 2606 +60
    35) #84-Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2590 44 points ahead of 36th
    these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top-35:
    36) #47[was #00]-Ambrose/Waltrip Racing: 2546, 44 points out of 35th
    37) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing: 2490 -100
    For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(11-2-2008)
  • Lucky Dogs – Who got a lap back on each caution at Texas: (and their finish)
    Caution 1: #25-Keselowski, 19th
    Caution 2: #20-Stewart, 16th
    Caution 3: #31-Burton, 13th
    Caution 4: #8-Martin, 12th
    Caution 5: #24-Gordon, 2nd
    (11-2-2008)
  • Texas Penalty Report:
    Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
    1) #15 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 52
    2) #28 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 51
    3) #28 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 53
    4) #41 Outside half pit box tire violation/Team member not in contact with the outside tire. PT 53
    5) #41 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 57
    6) #19 Outside half pit box tire violation/Team member not in contact with the outside tire. PT 115
    7) #9 Jumping the restart OL 245
    8) #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 247
    9) #28 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 247
    10) #38 Pitting before Pit Road is Open & Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 264
    11) #28 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 265
    12) #41 Excessive speed – Exiting pits TE 267
    13) #38 Safety violation 5 Laps 263
    14) #10 Commitment Line Violation PT 315
    PT – Pass through
    TE – Tail end of the longest line
    SG – Stop and Go
    OL – One lap
    ND – NASCAR discretion
    MCI – Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(11-2-2008)
  • Interesting Streak: UPDATE: The past three winners of the fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway have won at Texas Motor Speedway the following week [all three years since Texas got a 2nd date in 2005]. The year and winner: #48-Jimmie Johnson in 2007; #20-Tony Stewart; and #99-Carl Edwards.in 2005.(10-26-2008)
    UPDATE: Make it 4 in a row with Edwards’ win in the Dickies 500.(11-2-2008)

  • Testing changes to be announced soon? UPDATE 3: NASCAR hasn’t delineated the exact testing policy [for the Sprint Cup Series], but apparently it will allow teams to test at any of the tour tracks, for a total of about 24 days a team per season. There are 22 tracks on the tour, so teams should be able to test everywhere.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)
    UPDATE: NASCAR VP of Communications Jim Hunter said the sanctioning body is rethinking the 24-day testing schedule given the current economic conditions. Testing has to make financial sense for the haves as well as the have-nots.(FoxSports)(10-26-2008)
    UPDATE 2: The talk in the garage is that testing at Cup tracks next year, which NASCAR floated out the idea of about 24 days, could be reduced to about 12-16.(Roanoke Times)(11-1-2008)
    UPDATE 3: John Darby, Sprint Cup series director, spoke with the media at Texas on Saturday:
    Q: WHAT KIND OF A RESPONSE ARE YOU GETTING FROM TEAMS ON A TESTING POLICY FOR NEXT YEAR? IT SOUNDS LIKE THE TARGET NUMBER IS 12-16 DAYS NEXT YEAR.
    DARBY: “I think you’ve got to look from when we started talking about testing back in June and everything that has happened up to today. The very first meeting in New Hampshire in June, it was guys we can do zero or we can make it wide open. Everybody went Aaargh! And they came back with all the different versions and a month later we kind of settled in on like 24 days. Now we’re in early July and that’s when Wall Street started going wham. And more importantly the teams within the last couple of weeks have got their planner boards out and started penciling in their 24 days and stood back and said, ‘Holy Cow, how are we going to do this?’ First of all, the test policy is probably the most team-controlled policy that NASCAR has. In other words, we’re pretty much just the organizers and managers of it. We’ll give the garage, for the most part, what they want. But this is a year in looking at ’09 where zero isn’t completely off the radar. It may be just to help the industry. I think we’re pretty secure in the fact that 24 days is too much… if you’ve got zero here and our original 24-day plan, the likelihood of landing somewhere in the middle is pretty good. Testing is a year-by-year deal. Let’s say it was nothing, it maybe for only ’09. Everything starts coming back, looking ahead to ’10, we might get it back. That’s the most fluid policy we have. Something changes on it every year.(Roanoke Times)(11-2-2008) Comment here

  • Wider tires not expected any time soon: A lot of talk in the garage has been about the possibility of Goodyear introducing a larger, wider tire to better handle the loads this car creates and improve handling. Well, don’t expect it any time soon. “It’s a science project that we’re involved in with Goodyear,” said John Darby, Sprint Cup series director. “Obviously, a change that major would probably never see a race track for five years.” Darby said such a change to the tires would require major changes elsewhere: “You’ve got tire technology, you’ve got wheel manufacturers, and you’ve got brake manufacturers. It’s just so many components on something like that that it would be as big a change as when we left bias-ply and went to radial tires.”(Roanoke Times)(11-2-2008) Comment here

  • Grant Lawsuit to remain in New York: The Mauricia Grant sexual and racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit will remain in New York. NASCAR had requested to move the case to either North Carolina or Florida. U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts ruled that because NASCAR has a marketing office in New York City, federal court in Manhattan is an appropriate venue for the case. Batts also cited the facts that Grant worked races at Watkins Glen, alleges discriminatory practices occurred while in New York and was allegedly disciplined and demoted while working in the state of New York. “Courts are not required to determine the ‘best venue’ but merely a logical one with a substantial connection to the litigation,” Batts wrote. The sides expect a trial to last two weeks but no trial date has been set.(Scene Daily).(11-2-2008) Comment here

  • Busch to give 100K to Ard: 23-year-old Kyle Busch dedicated his latest [Nationwide Series] win to South Carolinian Sam Ard, a two-time Nationwide -then called the Busch Series — champion suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and in tough straits financially. “Sam Ard was one of the pioneers of the sport and this really means a lot to me,” Busch said after his now-traditional victory bows to the crowd. “I got to thinking about it and I decided I’m going give him $100,000 to try to help him out.”(Associated Press/ESPN)(11-2-2008) Comment here


    News from November 1, 2008

  • Hammond to appear on NFL show: Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway when he is done with his Speed TV commitments, former NASCAR champion crew chief and Emmy-nominated FOX broadcaster Jeff Hammond will fly to Los Angeles to be part of Sunday’s NFL on FOX Pre Game show airing at noon eastern. Jeff will join Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and be the guest weatherman.(11-1-2008)
  • Happy Hour for the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is over, the fastest:
    #99-Edwards 182.082
    #18-Busch 181.397
    #2-Busch 181.172
    #44-Reutimann 180.905
    #07-Bowyer 180.844
    slowest: #28-Kvapil 174.171 & #78-Nemechek 173.589
    See speeds, ave speed, laps run on my Texas Practice Speeds page.(11-1-2008)
  • First Saturday Practice for the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is over, the fastest:
    #16-Biffle 184.780
    #99-Edwards 184.458
    #48-Johnson 184.420
    #29-Harvick 184.200
    #20-Stewart 183.405
    slowest: #96-Schrader 175.302 & #78-Nemechek 164.179
    The session was extended by about 10 minutes. #7-Gordon wrecked early in the session, hitting the wall in turn 1 and will have to go to a backup. Later, #20-Stewart blew a right rear tire on the backstretch and will also have to go to a backup. #28-Kvapil and #26-McMurray both hit the wall on their first laps (in separate incidents), but the teams will repair the cars.
    no speed: #28-Kvapil
    See speeds, ave speed, laps run on my Texas Practice Speeds page.(11-1-2008)

  • Testing changes to be announced soon? UPDATE 2: NASCAR hasn’t delineated the exact testing policy [for the Sprint Cup Series], but apparently it will allow teams to test at any of the tour tracks, for a total of about 24 days a team per season. There are 22 tracks on the tour, so teams should be able to test everywhere.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)
    UPDATE: NASCAR VP of Communications Jim Hunter said the sanctioning body is rethinking the 24-day testing schedule given the current economic conditions. Testing has to make financial sense for the haves as well as the have-nots.(FoxSports)(10-26-2008)
    UPDATE 2: The talk in the garage is that testing at Cup tracks next year, which NASCAR floated out the idea of about 24 days, could be reduced to about 12-16.(Roanoke Times)(11-1-2008) Comment here

  • Earnhardt says season is too long: In a year that the sanctioning body was supposed to get back to its roots, it may be time for NASCAR to take an even longer, harder look at itself, #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr said. Foremost in his mind: the length of the season. “We have saturated the market with race after race after race,” Earnhardt said. “The NFL, they do such a great job. I hate to keep comparing to them and using them as examples, but they do the best job. They give you just enough to keep you wanting more. The season ends before you want it to. You get just enough to get excited and then it’s all over and there’s such a long wait. The model works.” But perhaps Earnhardt’s most pointed comment was a swipe at what could be construed as greed and excess, not only by the sanctioning body, but drivers, team owners and practically everyone associated with the sport. “We’re driven by the ability to go make another dollar and make more money and there’s no way we would ever trim it down,” Earnhardt said with a shrug. “When we were a 28-race schedule, the sport was giving you just enough to get really get excited about the next season. When we were racing at 12 o’clock, people were racing home from church to get to see the start of the race. We’ve just made it too easy and too much. We sort of lost a lot of the substance that we really had before and the character of the sport I think has waned a little bit, but its part of the times, too.” Even though it would mean a significant drop in revenue, Earnhardt would love to see NASCAR scale back. But he isn’t holding his breath it’ll happen any time soon. “No way we would ever trim the schedule back,” he said. “There’s no way we would change what we really already have here.”(Yahoo Sports)(11-1-2008) Comment here

  • Gordon say Letarte will continue as crew chief next year: Should Gordon not crack the win column before the season finale at Homestead, don’t expect any wholesale changes to the # 24 squad including crew chief Steve Letarte’s post. “We’re not changing Steve or crew chiefs,” Gordon said. “I believe in him. The problems we’re having are not Steve. We need to build more depth on the team, and Steve is a big part of organizing that and has really been spearheading a lot of the ideas that are going to be improvements for us for this season and next year.”(CBS Sports)(11-1-2008) Comment here

  • McClure pleads not guilty: Morgan-McClure Motorsports co-owner Larry McClure pled not guilty to tax fraud charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., according to court records. According to the indictment issued Tuesday against McClure, in a dispute over $325,000 of unreported income from 2002-2004, the government alleges that McClure’s claim that the money was a loan he received was false and was an attempt to avoid paying taxes on it. The race team is not mentioned in the indictments. According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, McClure faces up to 115 years in prison and a $2.75 million fine if convicted. Bond was set at $10,000. A trial date is set for Jan. 20-23 on the tax charges as well as charges stemming for an alleged fraudulent $59,852 invoice for painting of show cars.(Scene Daily), for the original indictment information, see my #4 team page.(11-1-2008) Comment here

  • Riggs still looking for ride: Scott Riggs, who is out of the #66 after the season, says he’s unsure when he’ll get another Cup deal. He says he continues to talk to teams but the issue is that teams are looking for sponsorship and until they have sponsors they’re not making as many moves for drivers.(Roanoke Times)(11-1-2008) Comment here

  • Camo scheme for Martin at Texas: Mark Martin will run a special camouflage paint scheme on the #8 U.S. Army DEI Chevy in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to promotes effort to deliver more than one million holiday greetings to U.S. Military worldwide. In keeping with the VAULT motto, “Get It Done. And Then Some.,” Coca-Cola North America is implementing the largest marketing campaign for the brand since its 2006 launch to ensure the program’s success. The VAULT “Honoring the Uniform: Calling for Support” initiative features an exclusive opportunity for people across the country to send hand-written postcards to troops worldwide and raise up to $100,000 for the USO. People are encouraged to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards, which can be found on special camouflage-themed VAULT 12-packs, at VAULT displays in participating retail stores or online at DrinkVault.com and MyCokeRewards.com, while supplies last. The postcards can be dropped in the mail with a first-class stamp and will arrive at a USO collection center for security screening before being distributed to U.S. troops during the holiday season.(Markmartin.com)(10-31-2008)
    UPDATE: Mark Martin and Capt Tony D. Tinderholt along with U.S. soldiers Sgt Alex DeLuna, Staff Sgt James Peacock and Staff Sgt Shawn Rule, show off a special camouflage paint scheme on the #8 U.S. Army Chevrolet during racing action at Texas Motor Speedway leading up to the Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 (Nov. 2). Martin is joining forces with Coca-Cola’s VAULT brand and the USO to generate support for U.S. troops and send more than one million holiday greetings to U.S. military worldwide. The initiative features an exclusive opportunity for people across the country to write messages of support on pre-addressed postcards, which can be found on special camouflage-themed VAULT 12-packs, at VAULT displays in participating retail stores or online at DrinkVault.com and MyCokeRewards.com, while supplies last. The postcards can be dropped in the mail with a first-class stamp and will be distributed to U.S. troops during the holiday season.(PR), see an image of the car on my #8 Team News Links.(11-1-2008)