January 2009 News Archives
News from January 31, 2009
- Gunselman, Bodine’s start new Cup team UPDATE: Journeyman driver Larry Gunselman is the latest to make an attempt at the Cup Series dream in 2009 as the Washington native has formed a team for himself and a pair of veteran brothers, Geoff and Todd Bodine. Gunselman, who won races in the old Winston West Series and its most popular driver award in 1996 before traveling east in 2000 to seek his racing fortunes, is the principal in the team that will field #64 Toyotas. He said Wednesday morning he’s backed by a group of investors who are new to the sport and is still seeking primary sponsorship. “Right now we’re looking at running for purse money while we try to come up with sponsorship dollars,” Gunselman said. “The more sponsor dollars you get, the harder you can run. I tell people all the time, if you don’t have money, you’ve got to race smart, and you can race hard if you do have money.” If a team had been able to make all 36 Cup races last season and finish in the least-paying position, it would have won $2,880,640 in purse money. Gunselman has six Camrys — three each that were purchased from Bill Davis Racing and Red Bull Racing — and Wednesday he’d just come from the NASCAR R&D Center with his crew chief “for as long as I can keep him,” former champion Doug Richert, and the second chassis they’d had certified. Gunselman, who has previous Cup team ownership experience from when he fielded the #98 Mach 1 Motorsports cars in 2004 with Chris Edwards, made 26 of 36 races and finished 39th in the owner standings, said to start the season attempting the races was critical. “There are so many people out of work out there right now that I believe the whole industry is going through a major correction factor — the whole economy of the United States is going through a correction factor at the moment,” Gunselman said. “There’s an opportunity for a guy who’s willing to go out there and take advantage of an opportunity and find a good group of people who really want to race, and we’ve got that. I think the current economic conditions are going to weed a lot of people out of our sport that didn’t get in it for the right reason to begin with, and the real racers are going to figure out a way to survive and come out of this economic situation still involved in the sport.”
While the team wasn’t sure who’d be in its car for Speedweeks, when the #64 will attempt to make the Daytona 500 as a “go-or-go-home” car, Gunselman said Todd Bodine would definitely drive at Fontana and Las Vegas, the second and third races on the schedule. Bodine is the 2006 Truck Series champion, who also has 15 wins in the Nationwide Series and 228 Cup starts, with five poles, seven top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Geoff Bodine, who won the 1986 Daytona 500, 18 Cup races, six in the Nationwide Series and hundreds of Modified races — but who hasn’t made a NASCAR national touring start since 2005, when he made eight starts in the Nationwide Series, may run at Daytona. Gunselman, 48, most recently made spot starts in all of NASCAR’s national tours — including 20 in the ’08 Nationwide and Truck series.(NASCAR.com)(1-29-2009)
UPDATE: Geoff Bodine will drive the #64 Toyota entrant in an attempt to qualify for the 51st running of the Daytona 500 for Gunselman Motorsports. Bodine will be making his first Sprint Cup Series attempt since 2004. The 59-year young native of Chemung, NY will be making several attempts trading off with his brother, Todd, for the Gunselman team during the 2009 season. Bodine’s last attempt was for also for Gunselman when he ran Mach 1 Motorsports. “This is a pretty neat opportunity and something I’m looking forward to doing,” Bodine said. “I still feel I have the competitive spirit and ability to get out there and race. I have driven so many types of cars from Cup to Modifieds to Trucks that I’m looking forward to the learning curve here with the new Sprint Cup car. When Larry first approached me about this, I started to get excited about getting behind the wheel again. So, here I am, getting ready for Daytona and seeing what our Toyota Camry can do at Daytona.” In addition to the opportunity to race, Bodine and Gunselman are both hoping to draw attention to the US Bobsled efforts that Bodine has headed up through his annual Bodine Bobsled Challenge held in Lake Placid, NY each January. “To have someone like Geoff in our car is incredible,” Gunselman said. “He and I have been friends for many years and I can’t even begin to thank him enough for signing on with us. I’ve been to every Bobsled Challenge and I’m hoping we can draw awareness to that effort, as well. We’re unsponsored right now, but have some key individuals helping us get the funding we need to compete on a larger basis. To see Geoff in the shop working on the car, in the car and interacting with the guys has been great. He won’t let on, but I think he’s getting more and more excited as time draws near for Daytona.” Interested parties can inquire to email@example.com regarding unique sponsorship opportunities available.(Packman PR)(1-31-2009)
- NASCAR: Drivers pass preseason drug tests: NASCAR does not anticipate suspending any drivers who took their preseason drug tests last week in North Carolina, sanctioning body spokesman Ramsey Poston said. “We are proud of how the process worked so far,” Poston said in a statement. “All drivers, crew members and officials will have passed the substance-abuse test going into the season.”
Drivers in NASCAR’s three national series must pass a drug test during the preseason, and most drivers took their test last week at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. This is the first season that NASCAR is requiring its drivers to pass a preseason drug test. Its previous policy allowed NASCAR to test at any time for reasonable suspicion – which is still the policy today – but did not require the passing of a preseason test. Teams had to submit crew rosters and list those who had passed a drug test in order to have them licensed to work on the cars. “We will continue to randomly test throughout the season,” Poston said, “and our reasonable suspicion remains in place, making NASCAR’s substance abuse policy one of the most comprehensive in sports.”(SceneDaily)(1-31-2009)
- Ride of Their Lives out on DVD soon: NASCAR is presented like never before when NASCAR: The Ride of Their Lives debuts on DVD February 10, 2009 from CMT Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment for the SRP of $24.99. Featuring footage that sets viewers right in the midst of the action, The Ride of Their Lives is a moving, adrenaline-filled journey chronicling a true American dream — this is the story of the men who built NASCAR. The DVD also includes over 60 minutes of extended scenes with NASCAR greats and their first-hand account on the history of the sport. Narrated by Academy-Award winner Kevin Costner, the history of NASCAR is presented through passionate, exclusive first-person accounts from the people who lived it. Compelling stories of loss and redemption follow the evolution of racers from the moonshiners of the 1950s to the media darlings of the 21st Century, making this a must-own DVD for NASCAR fans and beyond. The Ride of Their Lives contains striking archival footage chronicling the sport’s first 60 years to a half-century of Daytona 500 races, and also documents the remarkable changes in the competition, the technology, the sport’s ever-growing fanbase and the rock-star racers themselves, exploring why it’s the biggest spectator sport in America. This DVD includes all-new interviews with famed NASCAR personalities Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, as well as the final interview with Bill France, Jr., former NASCAR President (1972-2000) and son of NASCAR Founder Bill France. More info at cmt.com.(1-31-2009)
- Goody’s Headache Powders Receives Joe Littlejohn Award: Longtime sponsor of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) and motorsports racing, Goody’s Headache Powders was the recipient of the 2008 NMPA Joe Littlejohn Award presented annually at the NMPA Convention Awards Dinner. Goody’s has sponsored the annual NMPA luncheon for over 25 years, including this year’s event held prior to the awards dinner. The Joe Littlejohn Award is presented each year to a person or persons, or an organization, in recognition for outstanding service to the NMPA as is determined by the president of the NMPA. It is named after the former track owner from Spartanburg, S.C. Littlejohn is credited with two career NASCAR starts, but raced extensively before the formation of NASCAR. Goody’s entered NASCAR in 1977 and currently holds the record as the longest non-automotive sponsor in the sport.(PR)(1-31-2009)
- Demolition begins at Birmingham International Raceway: The wrecking ball from Brasfield and Gorrie took a few swings — mostly for the gathered crowd of city officials and others — but the massive concrete structure that makes up the grandtsands at Birmingham International Raceway wasn’t about to yield easily. When demolition of one of the oldest race tracks in America is complete, the new $55 million Fair Park project will include a natatorium with an Olympic-sized pool and an indoor track arena that will allow state high schools to once again hold indoor track competition. Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford took the controls of the crane briefly but didn’t make much of a dent in the structure.(Alabama Live)(1-31-2009)
News from January 30, 2009
- EGR close to naming driver for 4th car UPDATE 4.5 #34 and a sponsor, Mayfield to use #41: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will field a fourth entry — the #41 Chevy — in the Daytona 500 and expects to decide on a driver Monday [Jan 26th], team president Steve Lauletta said Saturday before the start of the Rolex 24 Grand-Am race at Daytona. Lauletta said the choice had been narrowed to two drivers but declined to name them, though he did indicate that veteran Sterling Marlin was not among the finalists. “We’re hoping by Monday,” Lauletta said of the decision process. “We came close to making a final decision [Friday]. We need to work over the weekend and Monday, but it’ll be pretty quick. Same thing with one of the sponsor deals we have done for Aric — next week.”(NASCAR.com / Sporting News)(1-25-2008)
UPDATE: John Andretti is expected to drive the fourth Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevy at Daytona. A technical alliance is in the works that would partner Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins and Andretti with EGR for Daytona and beyond, The car’s number and sponsor should be announced later this week. Andretti, 45, who won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 1997 driving for Cale Yarborough, has raced for Jenkins the last two seasons but would not comment on the current negotiations. Andretti admitted that after four seasons, Jenkins has wanted to expand his involvement in racing but wasn’t entirely sure to what extent. “We’re good friends and we work together on a lot of things,” Andretti said of Jenkins. “(The future of the team) all depends on what Bob can do because sponsorship right now is limited.” In 2009, Andrett’s plans will not be limited to NASCAR. “The Indy 500 is not going to go off my radar screen,” Andretti said. “I can’t imagine not doing the Indy 500. I’ve had so much fun at Indy the last two years.”(FOXSports)(1-27-2009)
UPDATE 2: hearing that the 4th team will use the #15 and the owners points from the #15 DEI team and be affiliated with Front Row Motorsports and supposedly the #34 Front Row Motorsports team will run with Tony Raines driving.(1-28-2009)
UPDATE 3: John Andretti will drive the #34 Window World Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevy in the Daytona 500 on February 15th. Andretti will have a technical alliance that partners Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins and Andretti with EGR for Daytona and beyond, Ganassi sources confirmed on Friday. Window World [which was also announced as Terry Labonte’s sponsor on the #66 Toyota], based in North Wilkesboro, N.C., is a residential replacement window company with more than 200 distributors nationwide.(FoxSports)
UPDATE 4: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s fourth car in the Daytona 500, the #34 Chevy, will actually involve a partnership with owner Bob Jenkins’ Front Row Motorsports and one of its drivers, John Andretti. An EGR spokesman said the collaborative effort would be only for the Daytona 500, and that the car would be a guaranteed starter via points accrued in 2008 by one of EGR’s cars that won’t compete this season. Those include the #01 and #15 that were fielded last season by Dale Earnhardt Inc. and the #41 fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. The #41 has been registered to Jeremy Mayfield in 2009 for his Mayfield Racing Enterprises, but the points didn’t go with the number, according to a Mayfield spokesperson. EGR this season will field full-season efforts for the #1, #8 and #42 Chevrolets. During Speedweeks, EGR’s Steve Lane [was the #40 crew chief for Ganassi in 2008] will be the crew chief for the #34 and EGR crewmen will be among those tending the car. During the past five seasons, Jenkins and his son, Brad have fielded between one and three car numbers each year in the Cup Series, including the #34 and #37 cars the past two seasons. In that time the Front Row teams have made 52 races, but have never been guaranteed starters, except in the case of a rainout.(NASCAR.com)
UPDATE 4.5: The team will be guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500 because it will have top-35 owners points from last year, although it was unclear whose points it will have. Whether the alliance will continue beyond the Daytona 500 is still to be determined. “We believe this is the beginning of a long-term partnership that will provide a technical platform for our team,” Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins said. “After being in last year’s Daytona 500 with John Andretti, I realized that with the right alliance and adequate resources, we could put ourselves in a position to have a front-running car.” Front Row Motorsports also announced that it plans to run the entire Nationwide Series with driver Tony Raines behind the wheel.(SceneDaily)(1-30-2009)
- Logano Slated To Be Youngest Driver To Start A Daytona 500: When Joey Logano climbs into the #20 Home Depot Toyota for the 51st running of the “Great American Race,” on Sunday, Feb. 15, he will make history as the youngest driver to start a Daytona 500. If Logano, who will be 18 years, 8 months and 22 days old on the date of this year’s Daytona 500, can get the #20 Home Depot Toyota and his Joe Gibbs Racing team into Gatorade Victory Lane in his first Daytona 500 start, he will surpass Jeff Gordon as the youngest driver to win “The Great American Race.” Gordon won his first Daytona 500 back in 1997 at the age of 25. Before Logano suits up for the 51st annual Daytona 500, he will first compete in a rare “Daytona double” on Saturday, Feb. 7 when he races in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA/REMAX Series season opener and the Budweiser Shootout All-Star race. In addition, Logano will participate in Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger on Sunday, Feb. 8, the Gatorade Duel At Daytona on Thursday, Feb. 12 and the Camping World 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener on Saturday, Feb. 14.(DIS PR)(1-30-2009)
- Yates Names Business Development Team: Yates Racing announced Jon Sands as Vice-President and Mark Gendle as Director of Business Development for the three-tiered Sprint Cup Series entry to include the #98, #28 and #96 Hall of Fame Ford. The duo will also support the #98 Nationwide Series entry with Paul Menard. Sands joined Roush Fenway Racing in 2001 after excelling in numerous areas of motorsports marketing. Sands experience ranges from Phoenix’s Firebird International Raceway, New York-based Cohn & Wolfe where he oversaw Pennzoil Sprint Cup Series program, and Coors Brewing Company’s Cup Series endeavors. At Roush Fenway Racing, his responsibilities included securing primary sponsorships as well as developing specialized, integrated marketing communication programs that make such sponsorship programs profitable to the client. Gendle joined Roush Fenway’s marketing team after a four-year tenure with Raycom Sports. At Raycom, Gendle developed sales and marketing strategies for regional television coverage of both basketball and football in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference. His motorsports experience began at Elevation Motorsports where he worked with clients like General Mill, UPS and Masterfoods USA.(Yates Racing PR)(1-30-2009)
- Newman questions timeline of drug testing: Ryan Newman supports NASCAR’s new drug-testing policy for 2009 but says he was surprised that the sanctioning body so clearly defined a designated time frame for the tests. “I might be opening up a can of worms when I say this, but why would you announce you’re going to have a drug-testing time?” Newman said during the Stewart-Haas Racing portion of the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “I mean the whole idea of announcing it kind of takes away from the people that know how to cheat the system. Obviously, I know there’s probably going to be some follow-ups with certain people … but it just seems to me that you’re only eliminating the really, really naïve people in the first testing or in the first screening like this.” The sanctioning body issued a memo to teams in December, requiring they submit drug-testing results from all crew members, spotters and race-day support personnel, including engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists, by Jan. 16. NASCAR was to oversee drug testing for all drivers beginning the week of Jan. 20.(Scene Daily)(1-30-2009)
- Wypall Wipers announces 2009 Crew Chief Lineup: Three of the most respected and successful crew chiefs in the history of NASCAR have been named to the 2009 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief lineup. The all-star line-up of Bob Osborne, Todd Berrier and Jeff Hammond, who have a total of 63 career Sprint Cup Series victories between them, continues the tradition of top-notch crew chiefs who call WYPALL Wipers their wiper of choice. This year’s WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief program, which began in 2004, launches in Daytona on Feb. 15. Osborne is in his second year as a spokesperson for WYPALL Wipers. He is coming off a banner 2008 season after leading the # 99 Roush-Fenway Ford Racing team and driver Carl Edwards to a runner-up finish in the Sprint Cup Series Chase. Berrier, also in his second year as a spokesperson for WYPALL Wipers, helped guide the #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevy team to a fourth-place finish in last year’s title chase with driver Kevin Harvick. The team had seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He has four career victories with Harvick, including a checkered flag in the 2007 “Great American Race,” the Daytona 500. While Hammond no longer calls the shots from high atop a pit box, he still oversees each racetrack from a television booth, analyzing the action for FOX Sports and SPEED Channel. His credentials include 43 wins and two championships as Darrell Waltrip’s crew chief, in addition to being a team member on four other championship teams. He, too, is a part of the WYPALL Wipers team for the second year. The crew chief trio, along with representatives from WYPALL Wipers, will serve as the panel for the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge, a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, each member will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and ingenuity during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief who goes to Victory Lane, but the crew chief who made the biggest difference to his team. The weekly winning crew chief will receive a $1,000 check as well as signage to announce the win on their pit box at the following week’s event. The crew chief with the most weekly wins will be honored as the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, Fla. Former yearly winners include Tony Eury, Sr. (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), Robbie Reiser (Matt Kenseth), Doug Richert (Greg Biffle) Mike Ford (Denny Hamlin) and Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson).(Wypall PR)(1-30-2009)
- Dover Motorsports sells Memphis Motorsports Park: Dover Motorsports announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Memphis Motorsports Park to Gulf Coast Entertainment, L.L.C. Under the terms of the agreement, Dover Motorsports will sell all of the stock of its subsidiary Memphis International Motorsports Corporation, the owner of Memphis Motorsports Park, to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million in cash. Gulf Coast Entertainment is the owner of a newly proposed multi-use entertainment complex in Mobile, AL which is projected to be operational in 2011. As additional consideration for the purchase, Dover Motorsports will receive a two percent non-dilutable interest in Gulf Coast Entertainment and will have an agreement to provide motorsports management services to Alabama Motorsports Park [A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway] when the facilities become operational. Closing is expected to take place on or about April 30, 2009 and is subject to financing and customary closing conditions. Memphis Motorsports Park does not contemplate any schedule changes in 2009 and will continue to host events in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. It will continue operations under the ownership of Gulf Coast Entertainment, but will operate under a management agreement with Dover Motorsports. In connection with securing NASCAR’s approval of the transaction, Dover Motorsports is expected to guarantee the obligations of Memphis Motorsports Park under its sanction agreements with NASCAR for the 2009 season.(Dover Motorsports PR)(1-30-2009)
- Potential Milwaukee Mile investors say no: Dominic and Frank Giuffre, brothers and former racing promoters, say they are going to take a pass on making a bid to take over racing at the Milwaukee Mile. Dominic Giuffre said he and his brother met with Wisconsin State Fair officials, but didn’t like what they were hearing. “The feeling we were getting is that they wanted to have the same kind of deal they have with the present promoter,” Dominic Giuffre said. Milwaukee Mile Holdings, the current promoter, have told fair officials they will exercise their option to get out of racing in December 2010. Milwaukee Mile Holdings had paid $700,000 last year in licensing fees, but was limited by the number of days it had access to the racetrack. “I don’t think any group will make a bid,” Dominic Giuffre said. Craig Barkelar, the fair’s chief financial officer, has said there are two other entities interested in taking over racing. He declined to identify either.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(1-30-2009)
News from January 29, 2009
- Academy Sports + Outdoors sponsoring Labonte for 5 races: Hall of Fame Racing announced that Academy Sports + Outdoors, a leader in the sports and outdoor industry, will sponsor Bobby Labonte and the #96 Ford for five races in the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. Academy Sports + Outdoor’s will debut with the # 96 Academy Sports + Outdoor Ford at Bristol Motor Speedway. The retail leader will again race at Darlington Raceway in the Southern 500, Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400, Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Pep Boys Auto 500 and Talladega Superspeedway in the Amp Energy 500. (Yates Racing PR)(1-28-2009)
- Reed Sorenson Takes Off Flying: Capt. Dustin Ripley, an F-15 pilot with the 95th Fighter Squadron, gave NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson the ride of his life on January 21 at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. “Taking a ride in an Air Force jet is unlike any training I’ve done for NASCAR,” said Reed Sorenson. “I have great respect for the Air Force and I’m honored to represent them in the No. 43 car.” The incentive flight at Tyndall AFB was part of an effort by Air Force Recruiting Service to prepare Mr. Sorenson for the 2009 NASCAR season, and educate him what it really means to be an Airman. The incentive flight will be followed this week by a two-day visit to San Antonio, Texas where Reed will meet with Air Force trainees going through Basic Military Training. While at Tyndall AFB, Mr. Sorenson and his crew chief, Mike Shiplett, were filmed for a series of webisodes in which the NASCAR men compare notes with Air Force pilots. The series, “Switching Seats,” is set to debut on airforce.com in March 2009. This campaign in addition to sponsorship agreements and all U.S. Air Force advertising is handled by Austin-based GSD&M Idea City. In November 2008, the Air Force announced both a primary and associate sponsor with Richard Petty Motorsports, formerly known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports, for the #43 car driven by Reed Sorenson. As a primary sponsor, the car will feature the Air Force paint scheme in four of 38 NASCAR races this season.(RPM PR)(1-29-2009)
- UTI, NASCAR Angels select Butts for scholarship funds: The UTI Foundation, in conjunction with NASCAR Angels — NASCAR’s reality TV show that gives deserving individuals a transportation fix — have selected high school senior Matthew Kyle Butts of Clarksville, Tenn., for a $25,000 scholarship to NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. Butts will begin classes at NASCAR Technical Institute on June 22. Butts, a senior at Northwest High School, has been around cars since before he could walk. UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute and NASCAR Angels teamed up to educate viewers about the school and careers in the automotive industry. Aspiring students were asked to submit a video application for the chance to earn $25,000 toward any program at NASCAR Technical Institute.(NASCAR.com)(1-29-2009)
- Evernham announces plans: Ray Evernham has been long known for his leadership atop the pit box of NASCAR stars like Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, guidance of Dodge’s return to NASCAR racing and technological innovation that changed the sport. Evernham announced that he officially is passing the torch on race team entrepreneurship to new team owners like Tony Stewart and Tommy Baldwin. He will now focus his attention on broadcasting, preserving racing venues for future generations, helping develop young drivers and setting new records. “I’m proud of the accomplishments I’ve achieved with my colleagues and partners over more than two decades in racing, from the early days in IROC to the championship years with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon to leading Dodge’s return to NASCAR as a team owner,” said Evernham. “It has been an amazing journey, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people and gain invaluable experience throughout the years.” Evernham is relinquishing his leadership role at Richard Petty Motorsports to pursue new Ray Evernham Enterprises Museumopportunities in motorsports, from grassroots racing to NASCAR and beyond. He is focusing his short-term efforts on establishing Ray Evernham Enterprises, broadcasting races for ESPN, managing East Lincoln Speedway, opening a new museum and entertainment facility in Mooresville, NC, (shown at right), helping develop young drivers and designing racecars for several key events. “I’m not retiring from racing or putting NASCAR on a back burner,” he noted. “I’m committed to the growth and success of the sport overall, and to building championship teams and organizations in many different levels of racing in the future. I spent my first decade in racing driving and working on racecars. My next decade I went from a rookie crew chief to a NASCAR champion. My third decade I had the opportunity to lead a manufacturer back into the sport and own a team. Who knows what my fourth decade in the sport will hold?” Evernham will continue his duties in the booth for ESPN with co-hosts Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Alan Bestwick for a number of NASCAR races throughout the season. He also will be at the ESPN Studios on Mondays as a host of “NASCAR Now”.(Victory Management Group)(1-29-2009)
- Childress receives Tribute Award: Richard Childress accepted the North Carolina Motorsports Association’s (NCMA) Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award Monday evening at the third annual NCMA industry awards ceremony at the Embassy Suites Convention Hall. Childress, who celebrated his 40th anniversary as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner in 2008, was recognized for his accomplishments in motorsports, his compassion and philanthropic efforts off the track, and for his individual integrity and character. Childress was introduced by last year’s recipient, “King” Richard Petty. The event also honored companies and institutions whose efforts in 2008 greatly impacted the motorsports industry in North Carolina in 10 distinct categories: 1. Education, Two-Year Central Piedmont Community College 2. Education, Four-Year Belmont Abby College 3. Workforce Diversity Winston-Salem State University 4. Marketing, Regional Food Lion Auto Fair 5. Marketing, National NASCAR’s Home Track Campaign 6. Event Facilities Z-Max Dragway 7. Economic Development Mooresville – South Iredell 8. Safety Innovation B.R.A.K.E.S 9. Small Company SRI 10. Large Company CV Products The NCMA is the voice of the motorsports industry in North Carolina, representing businesses that support more than 26,000 jobs in the state.(NCMA PR)(1-29-2009)
- Feds say NASCAR violated rules in plane crash UPDATE: NASCAR violated federal regulations when it allowed a plane involved in a deadly 2007 crash outside Orlando, Fla., to return to the air without maintenance after a pilot reported an electrical malfunction the previous day, federal investigators said Wednesday. The crash — which killed five people, including two children and an adult on the ground — was partly a result of sloppy maintenance record-keeping at NASCAR’s aviation unit, staff investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday. NASCAR has a fleet comparable to a small charter operation or a tiny airline. Full AP story at ESPN.com.(1-28-2009)
UPDATE: Statement from Ramsey Posten Managing Director, Corporate Communications for NASCAR on the NSTB report that came out Wednesday: “The NTSB finalized its report of the tragic accident that occurred on July 10, 2007. This process was largely about finding ways to make aviation safer and we support that effort. We have worked closely with aviation industry experts to improve our safety management systems so as to prevent an accident like this from occurring in the future. Our thoughts continue to be with those whose lives were affected that day.”(NASCAR Examiner)(1-29-2009)
News from January 28, 2009
- Richard Petty Motorsports Signs AJ Allmendinger: Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that AJ Allmendinger has agreed to a contract that calls for him to race in the 2009 season with the team retaining an option for 2010. Allmendinger, 27, will drive the team’s #44 Dodge in the Budweiser Shootout plus the first eight races of the 2009 Sprint Cup season as well as the Daytona race in July. The team is looking to put together a sponsorship package that would guarantee the #44’s participation in the remaining 2009 races and the 2010 season. “This is pretty awesome news for me,” said Allmendinger who posted two top-10 finishes in 2008 and a victory in the Sprint Showdown. “I just want to get behind the wheel of a race car and race. We have a lot of work to do on the track and need to sell some sponsorship, but this team has great equipment and I think there is a lot of chemistry here based on how we did at the end of last season.”
I cannot put into words how excited I am to run the #44 in 2009. I raced with these guys five times last year and loved everything about it. The cars were great, the guys were great and we put up some pretty good results. I’m just very grateful to have this opportunity.” Allmendinger, a Los Gatos, Calif. native, is a five-time winner in the Champ Car World Series but is relatively new to the world of the heavier, full-bodied stock cars. “AJ has a ton of potential,” said team owner Richard Petty. “I went testing with him a few weeks ago. When he climbed out of the car I think he went to everyone working on the car asking them questions and wanting to know what was going on. That’s the kind of thing you want out of your driver. He’s a young guy and I think we can help him and he can help us.” Allmendinger joins Richard Petty Motorsports’ teammates #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #43-Reed Sorenson. Sammy Johns will serve as crew chief on the #44. An agreement in principle to merge Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings to form Richard Petty Motorsports was announced earlier this month.(RPM PR)(1-28-2009)
- NASCAR Now Returns: ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now returns to the air for its third season on Monday, Feb. 2, to coincide with the beginning of the 2009 NASCAR racing season. The season’s first program, a one-hour roundtable discussion, airs at 5:00pm/et. Mike Massaro, who has been a pit reporter on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage the past two years, moves to the studio this year as a new co-host of NASCAR Now, joining returning co-hosts Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick. NASCAR Now includes the latest news, highlights, opinion, debate and analysis from drivers, crew chiefs and insiders both on and off the track. The program regularly airs at 5:00pm/et. Monday through Friday, with all programs 30 minutes except for the one-hour Monday roundtable. ESPN2 also airs a one-hour edition at 10:00am/et on the morning of each Sprint Cup race, and a weekend wrap-up edition will begin in July.
On Monday’s return episode, Bestwick leads the roundtable discussion of the latest NASCAR news with ESPN.com motorsports writer Ed Hinton and NASCAR Now lead reporter Marty Smith, both award-winning journalists, and ESPN motorsports analyst and NASCAR driver Boris Said. A five-part feature during the first week of the NASCAR Now season will tie in the 60th anniversary of NASCAR with Top 10 lists by the five former Sprint Cup champion analysts on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage team. Dale Jarrett will reveal his Top 10 personalities in NASCAR history, while Rusty Wallace lists his Top 10 tracks. Andy Petree reveals his Top 10 drivers and Tim Brewer lists his Top 10 finishes. Analyst Ray Evernham lists his Top 10 “coolest cars.” Other features during the first week include conversations about NASCAR with actor Tom Cruise and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton; a visit by driver Ryan Newman to Fort Bragg as part of his new sponsorship from the U.S. Army; and a review of NASCAR’s “Silly Season.” During the week leading up to the Feb. 15 running of the Daytona 500, NASCAR Now airs a three-part series on NASCAR and the economy, looking through the eyes of the NASCAR fan, a NASCAR team crew member and legendary driver/team owner Richard Petty. The five weekday episodes of the program will expand to one hour during Daytona 500 week and originate from Daytona International Speedway. Live NASCAR racing returns to the ESPN networks for the 2009 season when ESPN2 airs flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 from Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 12noon.(ESPN PR)(1-28-2009)
- Gilliland still under contract with Yates: Yates Racing co-owner Doug Yates says that David Gilliland remains under contract with the organization this season, though he does not have a Sprint Cup entry for Gilliland to drive. Gilliland, 32, drove full time for the team last season, finishing 27th in driver points and 28th in owners points. Those have been moved to the #96 team with Bobby Labonte, through an alliance with Hall of Fame Racing. The addition of Paul Menard and the third car have left Gilliland out of the driver lineup heading into the 2009 season. Travis Kvapil, who finished 23rd in the driver standings in 2009, is still driving the #28 but is not guaranteed a full schedule this season as the organization continues to seek sponsorship. His points have been moved to the #98 of Paul Menard. “David is still under contract with Yates Racing,” Yates said. “We’re looking for opportunities for David, but just with the way things came together at the end of the year with the Bobby Labonte program [at Hall of Fame Racing] and keeping Travis in the 28 car, David doesn’t have a ride right now. David Gilliland is a great race-car driver. He did an excellent job for Yates Racing last year, and he had our best finish as a team when he was second at Infineon [Raceway]. Hopefully, there’s something out there that we can put together for him or puts him back in the position he wants to be.”(SceneDaily)(1-28-2009)
- Support for Tommy Baldwin Racing: On any given morning in Mooresville, N.C., Tommy Baldwin pulls up to his new race shop to find another unemployed crew member awaiting his arrival and willing to volunteer his services, if only for a day. In a sport marred by mergers, crumbling racing empires, and an ever slumping economy, many find themselves rallying behind a man with the courage to start over with a brand new team. Baldwin, a 12 year NASCAR veteran, and former Daytona 500 winning crew chief, announced earlier this month the formation of his Sprint Cup Series race team under the existing Tommy Baldwin Racing banner [#36 Toyota with driver Scott Riggs]. Taking advantage of low overhead, and an influx of restless, out-of-work, mechanical talent, Baldwin rolls up his sleeves and works diligently with his crew to prepare for their Sprint Cup debut in Daytona next month. “It’s great to know that I have so many people to support me in this venture,” Baldwin said. “It’s overwhelming the amount of people that are behind everything I’m trying to do and accomplish as a team owner, I don’t know how successful I would be without all the support.” In addition to the manpower at the shop, Baldwin is also receiving an outpouring of support from industry related organizations. The following companies have pledged their support of Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 2009 NASCAR Season: Bowman, Cheerwine, Diversified Finishes, Heintz Bros Automotive, Inc., Impact Racing, Lincoln Welders, Mechanix Wear, Moog, Pro-System, Inc., Racing Electronics, Rock Batteries, Safety-Kleen, Sherman Williams, Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower, The Decal Source, TMC Trucking and Wix Filters. Primary sponsorship backing for the #36 team has yet to be determined.(Everest Marketing Group/TBR)(1-28-2009)
- Craftsman Renews “Official Tools of NASCAR” Sponsorship: Craftsman tools announced the renewal of the “Official Tools of NASCAR” sponsorship through 2013. Building on a 14-year relationship with NASCAR, Craftsman continues to view the sport as a perfect fit for America’s most trusted tool brand. “We’ve enjoyed a long and successful association and we look forward to building on the heritage of Craftsman in NASCAR,” said Mike Cassar, Craftsman brand manager. “NASCAR shows trust in our tools and that parallels the loyalty our customers have shown in making Craftsman their trusted brand of choice.” With the renewal of the “official tools” status, Craftsman will return as presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pit Crew Challenge, which is held at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. during the All-Star Week in May. Taking a broader approach to the NASCAR sponsorship in 2009, Craftsman will introduce a season-ending award for crew members, and plans to announce a defining partnership before the season kicks off in Daytona.(NASCAR PR)(1-28-2009)
- Pit Stop in a Southern Kitchen: Two Moms of Racing Legends Serve Up Stories and Recipes: A new hard-cover cookbook, Pit Stop in a Southern Kitchen: Two Moms of Racing Legends Serve Up Stories and Recipes, is scheduled to be released the first week in February, just prior to the Daytona 500. Authors are Martha Earnhardt and Carol Gordon Bickford. Martha is the widow of Ralph Earnhardt, mother of the late Dale Earnhardt and grandmother of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Carol is the mother of four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and is married to John Bickford, who serves as Jeff’s business manager. Martha and Carol plan signings at booksellers in select cities, and both also are slated to make appearances on several national cooking and talk shows. Jeff and Dale Jr. have written forewords in the 224-page book, which also features two 8-page inserts of color photographs of the authors and their families. For more info see my Racing Book News page.(1-28-2009)
- Hendrick presented with first chassis ‘Dusty’: Before “Blacker,” the most successful car in Hendrick Motorsports history, and before “T-Rex,” the Chevrolet that prompted NASCAR’s sanctioning body to rewrite its chassis rules: There was Dusty. The Chevrolet Lumina was an original, integral piece in the chassis-building history of Hendrick Motorsports. But the rustic car is more than a footnote in the company annals. It represents the innovative approach and optimistic spirit that team owner Rick Hendrick still infuses into his employees. To commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary, the restored Dusty was presented to Hendrick at the company’s season kickoff luncheon on Jan. 20. The car was painted silver and bears the single letter “H” in lieu of a number on the side. A small metal plate stamped with “HMS 001 Dusty” sits on the crossbar that goes through the passenger seat. When Dusty first was built in 1989, it didn’t have a chassis number anywhere on it. The precise craftsmanship served as the signature mark on Hendrick Motorsports’ initial stab at car building. Under the direction of Gary Dehart, the Lumina — originally identified as “HMS 89-1 test” — was to be used for testing purposes. See full story at the Hendrick Motorsports site.(1-28-2009)
- Dodson appointed to NC Auto Racing HOF board: The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (“NCARHOF”), a non-profit organization founded in 1994 as a means of preserving the history of automobile racing, is pleased to announce the appointment of John G. Dodson to its Board of Directors, effective immediately. Mr. Dodson fills the seat previously occupied by the late Benny Parsons, who served on the Board until his passing in January 2007. Currently serving as the Community/NASCAR Team Relations Director for the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, Mr. Dodson brings over 30 years of motorsports industry experience to the NCARHOF’s Board of Directors. Mr. Dodson started his career as a rear tire changer in the 1979 Daytona 500 for driver Richard Childress, and worked with racing greats including Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Tim Richmond, and 1989 Winston Cup Series Champion Rusty Wallace. Mr. Dodson’s motorsports career extends deep into the industry where he enjoys success as a motorsports media consultant in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. In 2008, Mr. Dodson was also instrumental in helping to initiate the NC Auto Racing Walk of Fame, which is scheduled to open in May 2009 in Mooresville, NC. Mr. Dodson joins the following motorsports icons on the NCARHOF Board of Directors: 1983 Winston Cup Series Champion Bobby Allison, 1980 Daytona 500 Winner Buddy Baker, NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, NHRA team owner Darrell Gwynn, Motorsports Artist Garry Hill, 2008 Daytona 500 Winner Ryan Newman, and Rusty Wallace, NASCAR Team Owner and 1989 Winston Cup Series Champion. Dedicated to all types of racing from drag racing to NASCAR, the museum houses more than 40 cars that represent and help re-live some of racing’s greatest moments. Numerous racing displays and showcases are continually rotated in an effort to promote North Carolina’s motorsports heritage. The North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization recognized under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Proceeds from the NCARHOF support Stop Child Abuse Now and the annual Stocks for Tots fundraiser. More inf at ncarhof.com.(1-28-2009)
- Tickets For International Motorsports HoF Induction Ceremony On Sale Now: Tickets are now available for the 2009 International Motorsports Hall of Fame (IMHOF) Induction Ceremony, scheduled for April 23, 2009 at the SPEED Channel Dome in Talladega, Ala. This year’s black-tie optional ceremony begins with a reception at 5:30pm and the banquet and awards ceremony immediately following. The five inductees being honored are: J.C. Agajanian, Donnie Allison, Jerry Cook, Bud Moore and Raymond Parks. Individual tickets are $125 and a table for eight may be reserved for $1,000 by calling 1-256-761-4755. In addition to the five inductees, NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher will be on hand to accept his award as the 2008 Driver of the Year and 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Justin Allgaier will also be recognized during the ceremony. Opened in April of 1983, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. Each year the annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held on the grounds of the Museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. The 2009 Induction Ceremony will be held Thursday, April 23, at the SPEED Dome, adjacent to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.(TSS PR)(1-28-2009)
News from January 27, 2009
- Carl Long to attempt Daytona 500: Carl Long has announced that he will be piloting the #46 Romeo Guest Construction Dodge in the 51st running of the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 15th. The racing engines supplied by Ernie Elliott. Romeo Guest Associates, Inc. of Durham, NC will be the primary sponsor of team for the event. The car will sport a special retro paint scheme commemorating the 16-year relationship between Carl Long and Romeo Guest. The yellow-and-green Dodge that Carl will drive will be reminiscent of the original Romeo Guest Construction Late Model that Carl Long raced on North Carolina short tracks from 1993 until 1995. Carl Long plans to have veteran racer Dennis Setzer at the helm of his #46 Dodge at Martinsville Speedway in March, with Carl Long returning to the wheel for the Sprint All-Star Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May. Additional sponsorship opportunities with Carl Long Racing are still available.(Carl-Long.com), see an image of the scheme on my #46 Team Schemes page.(1-27-2009)
- Cutbacks announced for NASCAR’s largest sponsors: The grim economic news isn’t just affecting NASCAR’s teams as they prepare for next month’s season openers at Daytona International Speedway. Four of NASCAR’s largest corporate sponsors — including Sprint Nextel Corp. — announced major layoffs and cutbacks Monday as a result of the worldwide economic slowdown.
In an effort to reduce labor costs by more than $1 billion, Sprint Nextel officials announced the company will eliminate 8,000 jobs — or 14% of its workforce — by the end of the March, placing a freeze on salary increases and suspending its 401(k) match for the year. The nation’s third-largest wireless phone carrier posted a net loss of $326 million in the third quarter of 2008 and nearly $1.2 billion for the first three quarters of 2008. The news was just as bad Monday at corporate headquarters for Caterpillar, Home Depot and General Motors. After announcing a 32% drop in fourth-quarter profit, Caterpillar — the new sponsor of Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy — will be forced to eliminate 20,000 jobs — about 18% of its workforce — through a combination of layoffs and buyouts. Approximately 2,500 workers have already accepted buyouts and some 8,000 contract workers will be eliminated. In addition, 4,000 full-time factory workers have been laid off. Home Depot, NASCAR’s official home improvement warehouse, announced it will close 34 Expo Design Center stores and 14 other specialty stores over the next two months. That will account for a 2% reduction in the company’s workforce, or about 7,000 jobs. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would end its Olympic sponsorship program, which had been in place since 1992. According to media ratings company Nielsen Co., Home Depot reportedly spent between $25 and $30 million in advertising for the last two Olympic games, and $12 million on NASCAR advertising in 2007. According to one tracking firm, Home Depot’s total budget for sports sponsorships in 2007 was between $60 and $65 million. General Motors Corp. announced plans to cut shifts this spring at plants in Ohio and Michigan, eliminating about 2,000 positions. In addition, production will be decreased at 13 other plants in the United States and Canada. Less than a month ago, GM announced the temporary closure of 20 plants in North American in response to the slowdown in vehicle sales. All of those plants are expected to resume production during the first quarter of 2009, with the exception of the plants listed in Monday’s release. About 1,200 workers will be laid off at GM’s Delta Township plant near Lansing, Mich., beginning March 30 when GM eliminates one shift. Another 800 workers will be affected by the elimination of another shift at the Lordstown, Ohio, facility.(NASCAR.com)(1-27-2009)
- Sad News – Lou Blaney: Lou Blaney, father of Sprint Cup driver, Dave Blaney, passed away Sunday, January 25, 2009. Lou Blaney was inducted into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame in Weedsport, N.Y. He was the first driver to be elected to the Hall of Fame from this region. Blaney’s victory list in the DIRT Modifieds is virtually untouchable. Lou was inducted into the Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Hall of Fame in 1997 along with Jack Freeman, Jean Lynch, and Mike Klapak. Viewing hours are as follows: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm and 6:00pm to 9:00p At the Hartford United Methodist Presbyterian Church, Located on State Route 305 in Hartford, OH. Funeral Will Be Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 11:00am. Cards can be sent to the Blaney Family At: P.O. Box 159, Hartford, OH 44424. See Sharon Speedway site and racerspastor.com for info. And Obit at the Tribune Chronicle(1-25/27-2009)
News from January 26, 2009
- Johnson cuts finger at Rolex 24 race UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson required stitches to close a gash to the middle finger on his left hand, suffered just prior to his final driving stint in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday. According to Johnson’s publicist, Kristine Curley, the driver was attempting to cut a hole in the pocket of his fire suit with a kitchen knife, in the effort to weave a cooling tube through the suit. The knife slipped, and Johnson suffered a gash to his finger. “It got me pretty good,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “Cut right through the fabric to where my finger was on the other side.” Johnson promptly removed himself from competition, surrendering his final run in the car to teammate Jimmy Vasser. Johnson was taken to the Daytona International Speedway infield care center, where he received stitches, though Curley was uncertain how many. For precautionary reasons, Johnson then flew quickly back to Charlotte, N.C., for further evaluation at an area hospital. He said the injury will not affect his driving and he’ll be ready to race when teams report to Daytona in 11 days to begin preparations for the season-opening Daytona 500. Curley echoed those thoughts. “It’s nothing major,” Curley said. “He’s fine. It won’t affect him at all.” Johnson teamed up with Vasser, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing entry, a team that finished second in 2008. But early in the running Saturday evening, Johnson pitted to change a tail light when his #99 Pontiac stalled out. The gear box had broken, dropping Johnson and his team nine laps behind the leaders.(ESPN)(1-26-2009)
UPDATE: Jimmie Johnson required repair of a tendon and nerve after cutting his left middle finger with a kitchen knife Sunday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Fla., while preparing to compete in the final segment of the Rolex 24 sports car series race. The injury occurred above the knuckle and happened while Johnson was attempting to cut a small hole in his firesuit in order to feed a tube from a cooling shirt through the pocket of his suit. Johnson flew from Daytona Beach to Charlotte for further evaluation and outpatient treatment with a hand specialist at Carolinas Medical Center. The injury will not keep Johnson from driving in the season’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup event Feb. 7 at Daytona International Speedway. “That certainly wasn’t the way I wanted to end the Rolex race,” said Johnson, who ran with the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team. “I really appreciate all the hard work by the guys this weekend. I’m just sorry I wasn’t there at the end with them. The doctors did a great job in Daytona and Charlotte and I can’t thank them enough. Everything feels good and I’ll be ready to roll for Daytona.” Johnson is still scheduled to appear on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” [Jan 26th] and will co-host his Super Skins charity golf tournament and party with Nick Lachey this weekend in Tampa, Fla.(GMR Marketings PR)(1-26-2009)
- Terry Labonte to attempt Daytona 500 UPDATE full-time Blaney: Add two-time NASCAR Cup champ [1984, 1996]] Terry Labonte to the list of Daytona hopefuls. Labonte is expected to pilot the Phil Parsons’ Toyota [MSRP Motorsports] for the Daytona 500 field.(FoxSports), Labonte would become 2nd in line for the past champions provisonal, 43rd spot, if needed. #14-Tony Stewart [past champ 2005] would get first dibs on the spot if he fails to have a fast time or race in thru the Gatorade Duels and #21-Bill Elliott would be 3rd in line to get the spot, if needed.(1-23-2009)
UPDATE: Two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Terry Labonte inked a deal that puts him behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry fielded by newly-formed Prism Motorsports for the 2009 “Daytona 500”. In making the announcement, team co-owners Phil Parsons and Randy Humphrey also indicated that they expect to compete in the full 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule. Window World, based in motorsports tradition-steeped North Wilkesboro, NC, will provide sponsorship for Labonte’s Daytona effort. Parsons, a former Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series competitor, and now analyst for SPEED Channel’s Camping World Truck Series telecasts, is pleased how quickly and smoothly things have fallen into place for his operation. “Randy and I have both long dreamed of owning a Cup team, and now that day has arrived,” said Parsons. “And to secure Terry Labonte and Window World for Daytona is more than we could have possibly hoped for our first race out of the box.” According to Humphrey, veteran Dave Blaney will take over for Labonte after Daytona. “Like Terry, Dave is not only a talented, competitive race driver, he is also a first-class guy off the track. He’s someone that we believe we can build a great team around.”
Window World CEO Todd Whitworth is enthused about the opportunity with Prism and is looking at additional race sponsorships. “Window World has grown to be the nation’s largest window remodeling company,” said Whitworth. “We started Window World just a little over 13 years ago, and today have more than 200 offices in 46 states”, said Whitworth. “We see the same level of energy and excitement at Prism Motorsports that has helped make our Window World team so successful. It’s a thrill for us to be able to help Prism get off to a fast start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona.”
Prism has also formed a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing, and the team’s Toyotas will get their horsepower from Joey Arrington, one of NASCAR’s most successful and respected engine builders. Bill Henderson, who served as car chief for Hall of Fame Racing’s Toyotas in 2008, has come aboard as Crew Chief for the new organization. Parsons, who finished 9th in Sprint Cup points in a 1988 season that included a win at Talladega, summed up his new venture with more than a hint of emotion. “Randy and I are committed to building an organization founded on integrity and driven to succeed; one that every team member and every sponsor can be proud of,” he said. Humphrey agreed, “Phil and I are incredibly blessed to be able to call ourselves ‘Cup team owners’.
And we plan to make the most of this opportunity we have been provided and the good fortune to have Window World as our key sponsor at Daytona.”(Prism Motorsports PR), see image of scheme on my #66 Team Schemes page.(1-26-2009)
- Junior Johnson’s son is…..racing: Robert Johnson is rail thin and tall, very nearly a full head taller than his dad.
The young man has the build of a basketball player, but instead, he plays lacrosse at school. Now, Robert has a new sport – racing – on which to concentrate and he has a pretty good coach during the early stages of his driving career. Others have turned to his dad for advice for years. When Junior Johnson talks, people listen. This is how far Robert’s racing career has progressed – he already has hero cards, and nice ones at that. On the back, a couple of his hobbies are listed as “driving ANYTHING” and “learning about racing.” He’s a freshman at Forsyth Country Day in North Carolina, where Richard Childress’ grandsons are also students. So far, there are a couple of cars in the Robert Johnson stable, one that’ll run on dirt, the other on asphalt, with another machine on the way. Of course, he’s using the #11, the number made famous by Junior Johnson & Associates drivers like Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Bill Elliott. “I started thinking about (driving) a few years ago,” says the 15-year-old Robert. “I kept talking about it, and finally got something going. I learn a lot about racing just from being around (Junior), and I decided I’d see if I could do it myself.”
“He’s been talking about it … you know how kids are … since he was eight, 10, 11, 12 years old,” Junior adds. “He’s all the time acting a monkey on golf carts and stuff. You can tell he’s interested in it, and he asked me one day if I would get him a car.” See full story at Rick Houston’s Stock Car History Online.(1-26-2009)
- Kyle Busch wins at SpeedFest 2009: Under partially sunny skies, SpeedFest 2009, took place Sunday at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Georgia. Fans in the stands were treated to a 100-lap Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) Pro Late Model event, followed by a 200-lap Champion Racing Association (CRA) Super Late Model event. While multiple drivers ran both races, it was Greg Simpson (PLM) and Kyle Busch (SLM) taking home the top honors. The Super Late Model 200-lap event saw a first half dominated by Casey Roderick. The Georgia racer tried to make his way back to the front after a four-car inversion at the midway break, but a mechanical failure forced him to the pits. Kyle Busch worked his way around then leader Shane Sieg after racing resumed during the second half, and held off Jason Hogan, Johanna Long, Scott Hantz and Michael Pope for the victory.(speed51.com)(1-26-2009)
- More tire testing at Indy planned: NASCAR expects to have at least two more Goodyear tire tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the Allstate 400 there in late July. Last year, NASCAR had to throw the caution every 12 to 13 laps during the race so teams could change tires and reduce the risk of tire failures. The tire rubber, instead of adhering to the track, turned into rubble and dust, causing a grating effect on the tires that eventually would cause them to blow. “Our tentative plan is [for] at least two more tire tests at Indianapolis,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday during the Sprint Media Tour. “We’ve made some great strides. I think they’ve got the tire picked that they need. We’re going to go back, and do, if not a development test, maybe start to do confirmation tests. There will be at least two of those.” Pemberton said the tire tests could include more than just one driver from each of the four manufacturers. “It could be a little bit more than that, give or take, depending on what Goodyear needs to do their tests,” Pemberton said. “It takes a little more track time to rubber in the surface, and it’s a little bit easier to do with a couple of extra cars.”(SceneDaily)(1-26-2009)
- Cope gets assoc. sponsor for Daytona: Cope/Keller Racing announced the acquisition of FW1 Project Top Secret as an Associate Sponsor for the February 12, 2009 Gatorade Duel 150 Qualifying race. Derrike Cope will pilot the #75 Cope/Keller Racing Dodge in the Gatorade Duel 150’s in hopes to race in the February 15, 2009 Daytona 500. RGS Labs International based in Palm City, Florida manufactures FW1 Waterless Wash & Wax, which is sold at event marketing displays across the United States and worldwide. The FW1 Project Top Secret label is designed to raise awareness and funds for the U.S. Wounded Soldiers Foundation. Darren Ellsmore, President of RGS Labs said “FW1 Project Top Secret is excited for the opportunity to be involved with Derrike Cope and Cope/Keller Racing. As a prior Daytona 500 champion and fierce competitor we are certain Derrike is the right fit to raise awareness for both the FW1 brand and the U.S. Wounded Soldiers foundation.”
“To have a product the caliber of FW1 Project Top Secret involved is a great opportunity,” said Derrike Cope past Daytona 500 Champion. “We look forward to showcasing the product and bringing awareness to US Wounded Soldiers Foundation, it’s a righteous cause and we’re going to have a great Speedweeks.”(Cope/Keller Racing PR)(1-26-2009)
News from January 25, 2009
- Sad News – Lou Blaney: Lou Blaney, father of Sprint Cup driver, Dave Blaney, passed away Sunday, January 25, 2009. More info to be posted as it becomes available. See Sharon Speedway site and racerspastor.com for info.(1-25-2009)
- Donohue wins Rolex 24 at Daytona: David Donohue won the Rolex 24 to end Chip Ganassi Racing’s Daytona winning streak at three races and match his late father’s [Mark Donohue] victory here 40 years ago. Donohue held on for the win after passing NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead just 41 minutes from the finish. Donohue, who started from the pole in the Brumos Porsche Riley on Saturday afternoon, combined with former Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, Antonio Garcia and Darren Law to win the closest race in the 47-year history of 24-hour classic at Daytona International Speedway. “We’re just a small part of what this team could do,” said a teary Donohue, whose biggest previous win was a class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “I’m just glad I could carry the flag.” Four of the sleek prototypes finished on the lead lap — the most ever — and the quartet spent most of the last two hours nearly nose-to-tail on the 3.56-mile road course that snakes through the infield and encompasses three-fourths of the 2½-mile NASCAR oval. No more than two cars had ever finished on the lead lap before. The winners completed 735 laps, a total of 2,616.6 miles. Montoya replaced teammate Scott Pruett in the cockpit of the Ganassi Lexus Riley with about 2½ hours and appeared to be in control after he took the lead during the 23rd hour. A record 25 full-course cautions kept things close and the final yellow of the grueling race came out for debris with just over one hour to go. All four of the lead-lap cars took the opportunity to make their final pit stops. Donohue, who was just 8 years old when his father, Mark Donohue, died after a testing accident in Formula One in 1975, jumped into the driver’s seat of the #58 car during the stop and somehow managed to stay right behind Montoya as they left the pits.
Jimmie Johnson, the three-time reigning Sprint Cup champion whose team finished second here a year ago, had some bad luck early in the Pontiac Riley he shares with former CART champion Jimmy Vasser and Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. Johnson stopped Saturday night to have a broken tail light replaced and wound up having the gearbox replaced after he broke the transmission trying to get the car in gear. The team wound up seventh, 21 laps behind.(ESPN/AP)(1-25-2009)
- Robby Gordon wins in the desert: Robby Gordon takes the win in SCORE Trophy Truck in his #77 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Trophy Truck for the weekend with new driver Justin “Bean” Smith in second OVERALL for the weekend at the 15th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. Steele drove yesterday and had a few problems and finished 6th. He put Smith in the truck today for his first ever Trophy Truck race and finished 4th, only seconds behind second and third.(dirtnewz.com)(1-25-2009)
- Kobyluck wins Toyota Showdown: Matt Kobyluck emerged from a wild three-way battle for first Saturday night to became the first driver to win two NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). Joey Logano slid up into Peyton Sellers while going for the lead in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. Kobyluck, who was running third, came across the start-finish line a nose behind Logano. Logano was penalized for his move, though, giving Kobyluck a second NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to go with the one he won in 2006. Trevor Bayne wound up second, followed by Jason Bowles. Logano finished 40th.(NASCAR.com)(1-25-2009)
- EGR close to naming driver for #41: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will field a fourth entry — the #41 Chevy — in the Daytona 500 and expects to decide on a driver Monday, team president Steve Lauletta said Saturday before the start of the Rolex 24 Grand-Am race at Daytona. Lauletta said the choice had been narrowed to two drivers but declined to name them, though he did indicate that veteran Sterling Marlin was not among the finalists. “We’re hoping by Monday,” Lauletta said of the decision process. “We came close to making a final decision [Friday]. We need to work over the weekend and Monday, but it’ll be pretty quick. Same thing with one of the sponsor deals we have done for Aric — next week.”(NASCAR.com / Sporting News)(1-25-2008)
- Kevin Harvick Inc. to Cup? Kevin Harvick doesn’t know if or when Kevin Harvick Inc. would become a Sprint Cup team, but Harvick will be ready if the right time – and the right sponsor – comes for his organization to make that step. Harvick admits the time could be soon, especially considering the current economic climate and the merging of several teams leaving the door open for a young program to make races and establish itself. “You’re going to see some people come into the sport because it’s an opportunity to try to get your Cup team started and try to make it work,” Harvick says. Do those people include KHI, which has competed in the Truck series since 2002 and in Nationwide since 2004? “You never can say no,” Harvick says. “I don’t have any interest in driving my own car, I know that for sure, but I think it’s something that you always think about.” If Harvick and his wife, DeLana, do opt to go Cup racing, they will keep the same philosophy they’ve used in building their organization. They won’t field a program unless it has funding. Harvick did run some Truck races during the organization’s first year just to get the company off the ground but has resisted the urge to field a car without financial support. “It’s just going to take the right opportunity to get in [to Cup] from a sponsorship standpoint,” Harvick said. “I think the Trucks and the Nationwide cars have built a foundation for us to do that if the right opportunity ever came about. With the people and our shop – all the things are there to do it. It just has got to be timing and I’m not going to do something that is not right [with sponsorship]. Right now, you might have to beef a couple of things up but the foundation is laid for all that stuff.” For now, Harvick will listen to potential opportunities while also making sure that KHI continues to be run frugally.(SceneDaily)(1-25-2009)
- Roush Fenway Racing Pledges ‘Green’: With the country under new leadership and the start of a new race season upon us, Roush Fenway Racing announces their pledge to sustainability and environmental protection. Always a leader in the sport of NASCAR on and off track, Roush Fenway Racing will continue current environmental initiatives and look into new initiatives to “go green” in 2009. There are many aspects of the sport which will not change in the immediate future when it comes to environmental impact. However, the environment is a topic that’s important to many of our sponsor partners as well as the world, so in an effort to be good stewards of the planet, Roush Fenway Racing continues to seek ways to be environmentally conscious from materials in their daily operations, to the expansion and construction of facilities. Roush Fenway Racing currently recycles oil, solvent, steel, tires, aluminum, paper and plastic bottles and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ian Prince, Roush Fenway’s LEED certified person on staff, oversees the operations of Roush Fenway’s 25-acre campus with three buildings totaling over 190,000 Sq. ft. All the building have innovated LEED building design features including (but not limited to) solar shades on southern exposure to reduce solar heat gain and glare, reducing the amount of artificial building cooling required; interior lighting controlled by individual occupancy and photoelectric sensors to reduce electrical usage; motion activated plumbing fixtures to reduce potable water use; and rain and storm water run off captured and contained for landscape irrigation reducing the need for potable water. As a point of interest, Roush Fenway uses no city water they have their own wells and storm water reclamation. In addition, Roush Fenway has proposed an emission reduction program to LED retrofit the shop Metal Halide lighting resulting in a 530 Megawatt savings of electricity each year. The use of Building Integrated
Photovoltaic laminates that will produce 13,710kWh per year of electricity for 20 years to be sold back to the utilities companies is also being proposed. But that’s not where the effort ends. Roush Fenway Racing Sprint Cup standouts Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle
are purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) as part of their commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(1-25-2009)
News from January 24, 2009
- NASCAR works with teams to improve business models: NASCAR chairman Brian France has ordered a companywide hiring freeze and suspended executive bonuses as the sanctioning body adjusts to the economic crisis. Although many teams went through offseason layoffs – it’s estimated at least 600 people from various organizations have lost their jobs since November’s season-ending race – NASCAR itself has been immune to staff reductions so far. But France said Thursday that open positions will not immediately be filled as NASCAR tightens its belt the same way most of corporate America has done since the economy began to falter last fall. “We’re trying to do more with less. That’s the difficult part of this economy,” France said following his state-of-the-sport address to media at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center. “It’s internal, but we’ve instituted some things that we’re trying to be responsible with our financial issues.” France said he’s also directed his management group to work with NASCAR teams in developing new business models that can help them withstand the current economic crisis. A sport heavily dependent on corporate sponsorship, NASCAR is increasing its involvement in helping teams locate and secure partners at a time when funding can be difficult to find. The initiative is run by its Charlotte-based “industry marketing” arm, a four-person department that works closely with teams to find sponsorship. “They’re out in the marketplace trying to help the teams secure sponsorship,” chief marketing officer Steve Phelps said. “They’re out trying to help the teams create packages that will be meaningful for sponsors that are looking to get into our sport. And they try to create meaningful points of difference from team to team, driver to driver, that create something special that that sponsor might look for. It’s more important what they do now more so than any time in its history based on the difficulty in the economy.” Sponsorship woes have dramatically – and quickly – altered the landscape of NASCAR’s top three series over the past several months.(Associated Press)(1-24-2009)
- Joe Gibbs flips opponent in match race: It may have been just for fun, but NASCAR team owner [#11,#18,#20] and Hall-of-Fame coach Joe Gibbs made good on his promise to refuse to lose in Friday night’s Arena Racing match race at the Hampton Coliseum. Gibbs started second in the one-on-one 10-lap race against friend and longtime team sponsor Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries. Gibbs fell back slightly at first, then caught Miller and bumped him a few times to the delight of the crowd of an estimated 4,000 fans — many wearing Washington Redskins gear. With about 2 laps remaining, Gibbs cut low in Turn 3 and smacked the left fender of Miller’s car. Miller flipped. Gibbs drove by and crossed the finish line first. Miller was unhurt and jovial after the race. The Arena Racing half-scale stock cars compete on a 1/10-mile aluminum track, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph. The founder of Arena Racing USA is Richmonder Ricky Dennis, a former stock car racer and son of Bill Dennis, who was a NASCAR standout. Bill Dennis was 1970 Cup series Rookie of the Year.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(1-24-2009)
- Boris Said looking to run the Daytona 500: from FordRacing.com – As for #60-Boris [Said], he plans on trying to qualify for the Daytona 500, and is looking for money to do addtional races. His Fusion is being prepped out of the Yates Racing shop, and we hope that he’ll be able to do more races this year.(FordRacing.com)(1-24-2009)
- Robby Gordon Heads West: Just days after Robby Gordon finished competing in the 2009 Dakar Rally, he is preparing to get behind the wheel of another race vehicle – his Trophy Truck. After arriving back from Argentina, the team members have been preparing the #77 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Trophy Truck for this weekend’s 15th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. The Laughlin Desert Challenge is the first of five major off-road racing events of 2009 for the SCORE International Series. The Laughlin race is truly one of the most unique formats on the SCORE schedule, due in part to the two-day race schedule and the temporary stadium that surrounds the start/finish line area and main pits. “After just completing the 31st annual Dakar Rally, racing in Laughlin this weekend is going a little challenging for our team. Since the Rally is such a long race, it takes many spare parts and pieces and much of our support equipment to compete at the highest level. We basically load up the whole shop for the Dakar Rally. Most of our equipment is just beginning its nautical journey back from Argentina, which will make this weekend’s race tough from a preparation standpoint. But, Laughlin is a short course race and the only one where fans can see the action up close. We are excited to be bringing our #77 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Trophy Truck to compete against the best teams in the US. We just finished third in the Dakar Rally, and we really want to start the SCORE season off with a win,” commented Robby Gordon on this weekend’s SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge race.(RGM PR)(1-24-2009)
News from January 23, 2009
- NASCAR Champions Set To Converge On L.A. NASCAR champions from across North America will converge on southern California for two days of celebration, as activities kick off in and around Los Angeles leading up to the postseason short-track showcase, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The best short-track drivers throughout NASCAR’s developmental series compete in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The sixth running of the event will be held Jan. 23-24 at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.), and will feature a 250-lap Camping World Series race, as well as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model and Late Model races. SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, available nationwide on SIRIUS channel 128 and on XM channel 128 with the “Best of SIRIUS” programming package, will broadcast the action of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown beginning at 10pm/et on Saturday, Jan. 24. Calling the action live from Irwindale will be SIRIUS NASCAR Radio host and short-track aficionado Pat Patterson. The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will feature the sixth running of the postseason showcase event, which has quickly grown into what fans and drivers have come to call the “Daytona 500 of short-track racing.” The list of drivers entered in Saturday’s 250-lap Camping World Series race is a star-studded roster of NASCAR short-track standouts. Joey Logano will look to defend his race title. Leading the list of challengers is three-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., 2008 Camping World Series West champion Eric Holmes, 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East champion and 2006 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown winner Matt Kobyluck, and two-time Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris. Also headed to Irwindale are former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions Peyton Sellers and Greg Pursley, 2008 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Scott Steckly and 2008 NASCAR Mexico Series champion Antonio Perez. To purchase tickets for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, fans can go to www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com or call the track at (626) 358-1100.(NASCAR PRs)(1-23-2009)
- France no plans on leaving the sport: NASCAR chairman Brian France doesn’t plan to leave the sport, which has been run by a member of his family since it began in 1949, anytime soon. France’s intentions came under question after he said last month at a motorsports marketing forum in New York that he would not be in the sport for 30 years like his father, Bill France Jr. That, along with speculation from a few years ago that the 46-year-old France might relocate an existing NFL franchise to Los Angeles, had some questioning his dedication and effectiveness. But France insisted on Thursday during the final stop of the NASCAR media tour that he plans to be around the sport founded by his grandfather, Bill France Sr., for a long time. “This gets misunderstood whenever I say something like that,” France said. “It simply means that my father [spent] 32 years as CEO and president of NASCAR. All I said was that’s not in the cards for me, I don’t think it’s a smart thing for the sport. It doesn’t mean I won’t have a long run. I hope I do. I hope I’m doing what I’m doing. I really like what I’m doing and like working in the industry.” But France didn’t rule out the possibility that the sport could one day be run without a France in charge.(ESPN.com)(1-23-2009)
- Phoenix Racing announces 2009 plans UPDATE: Phoenix Racing announced today that they are expanding their Sprint Cup schedule to include the entire 2009 season. Driver announcement will be forth coming. Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming will continue their partnership with James Finch and Phoenix Racing as primary sponsor of the #1 Nationwide Chevrolet driven by Mike Bliss and the #09 Chevy for ten Sprint Cup races starting with the Daytona 500.(Phoenix Racing PR)(1-22-2009)
UPDATE: Phoenix Racing will run Brad Keselowski in the #09 Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming Chevy for 10 races with Hendrick engines and the remaining races in Dodges bought from Ganassi with Ernie Elliott engines. The drivers for the #09 Dodge will be a combo of Sterling Marlin, Mike Bliss and Ken Schrader.(1-23-2009)
- NASCAR sticking with 4-car limit: NASCAR President Mike Helton said Thursday on the final day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour that there will be no backing away from the four-car limit on NASCAR teams. “We haven’t changed our minds on this,” Helton said. “In fact, it’s probably stronger than it’s ever been. We believed it was the right thing to do when we announced it. We believe it’s the right thing to do today.” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said a cap on the number of teams keeps the sport open to newcomers. He said even in these hard economic times there have been 15 new teams that have recently sought certification from NASCAR because they see an opportunity to break into the sport.(Alabama Live)(1-23-2009)
- Tire testing at Atlanta over: Encouraged by the results from a two-day Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company test session at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Greg Biffle expects old-time, side-by-side racing will be the rule of the day at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the March 8 Kobalt Tools 500. Biffle, who was testing at the 1.54-mile oval along with #42-Juan Pablo Montoya, #77-Sam Hornish Jr. and #82-Scott Speed, believes Goodyear is in the process of developing a tire for Atlanta’s March race that will allow NASCAR’s top drivers to race in any groove, just like “the old Atlanta.”
“I am extremely happy with the tire that Goodyear has brought here to test,” said Biffle, who finished third in the points standings in the 2008 season. “They have a new left-side compound that puts a lot of driveability into the car.” While March 2008’s Kobalt Tools 500 was overshadowed by tire concerns, Biffle believes the new tire will allow Atlanta Motor Speedway to again be one of the most driveable, competitive, and thus entertaining, tracks on NASCAR’s 2009 schedule. “The old tire [in March] lost grip running on the bottom after five to eight laps,” said Biffle, whose best time in the test was a lap of 29.64 seconds (187.045 mph) in a fully-logoed 3M #16. “But this tire really hooks up to the bottom of the track for an extend run and you’re not sliding all over the place. It’s more like the old Atlanta that all of [the drivers] like.” In addition to Biffle’s strong endorsement of the tires used in the Goodyear test, the often outspoken Juan Pablo Montoya also had praise for Goodyear. “I think [Goodyear] has brought a lot of different tire possibilites here and each one is different, but they are all improvements in different ways” said the veteran open-wheel driver who is entering his third full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. “It is encouraging that they are doing what they can to help us and it has been really good. What we are running right now is incredibly fast. When you get here in March with the heat, you will be sliding a lot more. We are just trying to find a tire that is more predictable.” Great seats are still available for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and adult tickets start at just $39. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.(AMS PR)(1-23-2009)
- Terry Labonte to attempt Daytona 500: Add two-time NASCAR Cup champ [1984, 1996]] Terry Labonte to the list of Daytona hopefuls. Labonte is expected to pilot the Phil Parsons’ Toyota [MSRP Motorsports] for the Daytona 500 field.(FoxSports), Labonte would become 2nd in line for the past champions provisonal, 43rd spot, if needed. #14-Tony Stewart [past champ 2005] would get first dibs on the spot if he fails to have a fast time or race in thru the Gatorade Duels and #21-Bill Elliott would be 3rd in line to get the spot, if needed.(1-23-2009)
- Nemechek Announces 2009 Driving Plans: Joe Nemechek is gearing up for the 2009 NASCAR season. The driver and owner of NEMCO Motorsports said that he is planning to run the full Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedule, beginning with next month’s season openers at Daytona International Speedway — the Daytona 500 and Camping World 300. Nemechek will drive the #87 Toyota in the Cup Series and the #87 Chevy in the Nationwide races. “We are confident about acquiring sponsorship for 12 Cup races,” said Nemechek. “We’re working to secure sponsorship for the remaining 24 events and also for a number of Nationwide races. We have an excellent opportunity for a company interested in pursing a cost-effective motorsports sponsorship. Anyone interested can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to race and put people back to work in these tough economic times.” Veteran crew chief Philippe Lopez has joined NEMCO Motorsports and will oversee the competition side in both series. “We have a lot of exciting things happening at NEMCO,” added Nemechek. “Having Philippe join us is a huge plus for our program. We were also able to acquire excellent equipment and are in position to run an economic yet competitive program.”(NEMCO Motorsports PR)(1-23-2009)
- Kvapil to run at least first five races..then: Yates Racing is committed to running the first five Sprint Cup races with #28-Travis Kvapil, with any races of the season beyond that still to be determined, team general manager Max Jones said Thursday.
Jones said he hopes that sponsorship can be found, much like the team did last year when it ran an unsponsored car in several races and had several occasional primary sponsors. While optimistic that recent talks with potential sponsors will come through, Jones said the team doesn’t intend to run the team unsponsored the entire year. Kvapil’s crew chief will be Ben Leslie, who will also continue in his position as Ford Racing’s NASCAR field manager. Todd Parrott was going to be Kvapil’s crew chief, but he – and his entire team – is going to work with #96-Bobby Labonte, whose Hall of Fame Racing team will be operated by Yates Racing in a deal announced last week. Kvapil will have no points to fall back on in getting into the first five races. His points from 2008, when he finished 23rd in the driver standings, went to #98-Paul Menard, who brought sponsorship to the team.(SceneDaily)(1-23-2009)
- Biffle fast in test at Texas World Speedway: With NASCAR’s ban on testing at sanctioned facilities sending its national series teams far and wide to rack up some mileage, #16-Greg Biffle’s Roush Fenway Racing Ford team was the first Cup operation to test at the newly-spruced-up, two-mile Texas World Speedway, whose last Cup race was held in 1981 and won by the late Benny Parsons. Biffle, whose history includes a heavy crash in testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in December 2006, voiced his opinion on the speeds achieved at Texas World, but said nothing about a lack of SAFER barriers at the track. “[It was] very fast,” Biffle said. “A little bit bumpy, which is to be expected of a race track that the pavement is that old, but just a very fast place. It’s kind of a fun race track, but our cars today are probably pretty dang fast for a race track like that.” Biffle said his Thursday afternoon speeds in College Station on Jan. 15 were the “fastest I’ve been in a race car before — 218 miles an hour. That’s getting her done, if you want to say — 195 mile an hour average, so it was a pretty fast place.”(NASCAR.com)(1-23-2009)
- Donohue on pole for Rolex 24: David Donohue edged Timo Bernhard by 0.001 seconds Thursday to take the pole position for the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona, breaking the Daytona Prototype track record. Donohue turned a lap in 1 minute, 40.540 seconds — averaging 127.472 mph — in the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley he will share with Darren Law, Buddy Rice and Antonio Garcia in the race.
“Actually, winning the pole was a bit of a surprise,” Donohue said. “We had a bit of a problem with traffic on what I thought was my fastest lap. We were having an electrical gremlin, so I didn’t know how quick I was running. The team told me I was P-1, but I didn’t know by how much and what to do with the tires. But I said it before, all that counts is where you are at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.” Donohue joined his father, the late Mark Donohue, as a pole winner in the event. The elder Donohue won the pole for Penske Racing in 1971. They joined Dan and Alex Gurney as father-son pole winners.(ESPN/AP)(1-23-2009)
- NASCAR Drivers kick off 2009 season in Rolex 24 at Daytona: The Daytona 500 and the start of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is less than three weeks away but a number of drivers and owners will make an early visit to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Since 1962, NASCAR stars have been a part of the historic, twice-around-the-clock sports car race. A Sprint Cup competitor has shared the winning Grand-Am Daytona Prototype in each of the past three seasons: Casey Mears in 2006 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007-08. Both return for this year’s race along with 2006-08 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, AJ Allmendinger, Colin Braun and Kyle Petty. A number of NASCAR national series owners also stand out among an expected entry of more than 50 Daytona Prototype and GT cars. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates seeks a record fourth consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona victory. Richard Childress, Roger Penske and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner Kevin Buckler also have submitted entries. The race is set for 3:30pm/et Saturday and ends at the same time on Sunday. FOX will broadcast the Rolex 24 at Daytona from 3-4:30pm/et Jan. 24. SPEED coverage continues from 4:30-10pm/et and continues live through post-race beginning at 7:00am/et Jan. 25.(NASCAR PR)(1-23-2009)
- Many New Teams for 2009 UPDATE: NASCAR says that 15 new teams have submitted Sprint Cup cars to be certified this year. According to Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby and other recent announcements, those teams would include Tommy Baldwin Racing [#36 Toyota], TRG Motorsports [#71 Chevy], Nemco Motorsports [#87 Chevy], Mayfield Motorsports [?-Toyota], R3 Motorsports [#23-Chevy], Germain Racing [#13-Toyota]], Phoenix Racing [#09-Chevy] and others.(SceneDaily)(1-22-2009)
UPDATE: Jeremy Mayfield is among 15 people who have applied for ownership in the Sprint Cup series this season, NASCAR officials said on Thursday. Among the others are Tommy Baldwin, Joe Nemechek, Kevin Butler, Buddy Cisco and Larry Gunselman. A full list was not available. NASCAR officials have no idea how many races the teams will run or under what manufacturer they will run. Only Tommy Baldwin, a former crew chief, has said he plans to run a full season with Toyota support. “It could be a one-shot Hail Mary for the Daytona 500,” Cup series director John Darby said of the others.
Mayfield, who made the Chase in 2004 and 2005 at Evernham Motorsports, is optimistic he’ll be at next month’s opener in Daytona Beach and many more races. “We’ve applied and we’re 99.9% sure it’s going to be a really, really good deal and work out for us,” he said. “I always said I didn’t want to own my own team. But everything that has come together, I feel like it’s an opportunity I cannot do.”
News from January 22, 2009
- Phoenix Racing announces 2009 plans: Phoenix Racing announced today that they are expanding their Sprint Cup schedule to include the entire 2009 season. Driver announcement will be forth coming. Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming will continue their partnership with James Finch and Phoenix Racing as primary sponsor of the #1 Nationwide Chevrolet driven by Mike Bliss and the #09 Chevrolet for ten Sprint Cup races starting with the Daytona 500.(Phoenix Racing PR)(1-22-2009)
- Ford to debut new ‘FR9’ engine this season: Ford and Roush Yates Engines latest NASCAR-approved engine will debut this season. Code-named “FR9,” this new piece is the first purpose-built NASCAR racing engine to ever come out of Ford Motor Company. Its design has been spearheaded and developed by Ford Racing engineer David Simon, and famed engine builder Doug Yates, along with input from legendary Ford Racing engine engineer Mose Nowland. “This is an exciting time for us to say the least, especially with the way our two companies have worked so well together on this project,” said Yates. “I’ve never had the opportunity to work on a NASCAR engine with a clean sheet of paper, but that’s basically what we’ve done and I’ve enjoyed every second. We feel we’ve got a piece that will not only be better than what we’ve got now, but will give us room to grow. With the exception of a few cylinder head changes through the years, we’ve had the same engine since 1991 and have been able to squeeze out every ounce of power and speed possible. What’s got me so excited is we’ve won races and championships with an engine many consider old, and this new piece is definitely a notch above, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to for years to come.” There are three key differences between “FR9” and the current engine. First, the cooling system has been re-worked and will allow teams to optimize the amount of tape they can put on the front grille and improve downforce. Second, the valve train has been improved, and, third, the production and assembly of “FR9” will be much easier than today’s model. Just when “FR9” is ready for competition remains to be seen, but a tentative target date is the second-half of the 2009 season. “We’re not going to rush this engine into competition until we’re 100% sure it’s going to meet our strict standards,” said Yates. “We don’t feel a need to rush because our current engine is still strong and that gives us the luxury to take our time and make sure we do “FR9” right. I know we’ve got a winner here, and I can’t wait to see it on the track.”(Ford Racing)(1-22-2009)
- NASCAR’s TV boss rejects local blackout: Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith might like the idea of local television blackouts for races that are not sold out, but NASCAR and at least one television partner do not. Paul Brooks, the NASCAR senior vice president who oversees its broadcasting efforts, said such blackout would create too many problems. “Event attendance is a priority for NASCAR and our television partners,” Brooks said. “However, there are many significant issues, unique to NASCAR, that arise around the concept of local TV blackouts. TV partners, advertisers, ratings, team and event sponsors would all be negatively impacted. However, the most significant issue is the negative effect this move would have for our fans. We need to continue to find ways to bring our fans even more television, Internet, radio and new-media coverage and continue to remind fans that the ultimate NASCAR experience will always be sitting in the grandstands watching that race live.” George McNeilly, senior director for communications for ESPN, echoed Brooks’ position. “We all want to see growth in both attendance and television ratings,” McNeilly said. “We will continue to work with NASCAR and race tracks to find mutually beneficial solutions that do not involve blacking out our telecasts.”(Charlotte Observer)(1-22-2009)
- Johnson Named SPEED Performer of the Year: Three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson earned his third consecutive SPEED Performer of the Year award, edging out NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher and Formula One phenom Lewis Hamilton to earn the prestigious Mario Andretti Trophy, a unique bronze sculpture by artist Elie Hazak depicting Andretti’s career and heritage. The award, part of the annual SPEED Performance Awards (air date Feb. 5 at 10pm/et), was voted on by a 15-member SPEED panel, headlined by Andretti, “Wind Tunnel” host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Sheheen, SPEEDtv.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen and versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder. Andretti, named the “Driver of the Century” by the Associated Press, and SPEED President Hunter Nickell surprised Johnson with the award during Wednesday’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway NASCAR Media Tour stop at Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson finished the voting with an average ballot position of 3.2, followed by Schumacher (3.7), Hamilton (3.7), IRL champ Scott Dixon (4.4), MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi (5.1) and F1’s Felipe Massa (6.9).(SPEED)(1-22-2009)
- Drive for Diversity Introduces 2009 Driver Lineup: The Drive for Diversity (D4D) initiative continues to move forward in 2009 with an expanded driver lineup and a new management group. Twelve drivers will participate in the sixth season of Drive for Diversity – four in the NASCAR Camping World Series and eight in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In addition, former Dale Earnhardt Inc. President Max Siegel and his new marketing and entertainment company, 909 Group, will take over day-to-day management of the initiative.(NASCAR PR), see my Drive for Diversity Page for the driver lineup and more.(1-22-2009)
- Mike Wallace has ride for Daytona 500 UPDATE: Mike Wallace says he’s secured a ride in a “competitive car” for the season-opening Daytona 500, providing he can get through the arduous Daytona qualifying process. But beyond Daytona, Wallace said this week he just doesn’t know what’s going to happen. “We’re still talking to people, and they’re still interested in possibly doing something,” Wallace said. “The only thing that I’m thinking is that I wish it was, like, three months ago — because the way they’re thinking and the way I’m thinking, knowing how close the beginning of the season is, causes me a little bit of concern.” Wallace just doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing beyond Speedweeks — though he’d consider racing any of NASCAR three national tours.(in part from NASCAR.com)(1-1-2009)
UPDATE: TRG Motorsports announced today their entry in the 51st running of the Daytona 500. The team is taking its experience garnered at the top levels of professional sports car racing and in the Camping World Truck Series, where they posted their first win in 2008, to NASCAR’s biggest stage. The team will have veteran driver Mike Wallace pilot the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet on Sunday, February 15 at the World Center of Speed. “This is a huge opportunity for TRG Motorsports,” Kevin Buckler, team principal said. “With the group of partners we have and very competitive team and package we decided to put a program together and race at the 500. We have been on a very steep growth curve with our entries in the Truck Series and ARCA. With the economic situation, it is always nice to be able to look for opportunity wherever possible and that what we have done. This will be defining moment in our team’s history. The plan we crafted two years ago is in place, objectives are being met and we are trying to reach our goals.” With more than 55 entries expected to compete for 43 starting positions in the 200-lap Daytona 500, the biggest goal for TRG Motorsports is to make it in the show. TRG has enlisted one of the most competent super speedway drivers in the world to pilot their entry in “The Great American Race”. Mike Wallace, who has often been regarded as a restrictor plate specialist, will drive for TRG in their debut in Daytona Beach, Florida. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with TRG Motorsports in regard to their new Sprint Cup effort,” Wallace said. “With all of the success that they’ve had in road racing and the championship caliber organization that they’ve put together on the NASCAR side, I’m really excited about he opportunity to race for them at Daytona. They are true racers and that’s the type of group that I want to be associate with. They’ve proven that they can win in the Truck Series and to be able to help with their first effort in Sprint Cup is exciting.” Wallace will have a solid chance after pairing with TRG Motorsports and veteran Crew Chief, Butch Hylton. Hylton is a Daytona winner, having led Kevin Harvick Inc.’s #33 Nationwide team to a win in the 2005 Daytona 300. Hylton was also responsible for helping Yates Racing place two cars on the front row for the 2007 Daytona 500. TRG Motorsports has purchased a super speedway car from one of the most powerful teams in NASCAR, Richard Childress Racing. Through their association with Chevrolet, TRG and RCR have entered into a technical alliance which will benefit both teams. “With a former Richard Childress Racing car and engines supplied by ECR Engines we have accelerated our learning curve substantially,” Buckler explained. “Couple that package with the experience that Mike brings and I believe we have a very competitive package. While the competition will be very, very tough with Mike behind the wheel and Butch calling the shots as the crew chief, we should have a legitimate shot at qualifying our way into the field and making our Sprint Cup debut in this prestigious race! This will be a real honor to be able to see our time take that green flag.” TRG Motorsports is based in Mooresville, North Carolina where they run two Camping World Truck Series teams as well as a two car ARCA series effort. The company founded in 1993 has been competing at the top level of motor racing ever since. The team has the most wins of any team in the Grand-Am Rolex Series with 25, including the 2005 and 2006 Rolex Series GT championship trophy to go along with wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. More info about the team at theracersgroup.com.(TRG Motorsports PR), see images of the car on my #71 Team Schemes page.(1-22-2009)
- Motorcraft to sponsor Wood Bros for 9 races: For the ninth consecutive year, Ford Customer Service Division’s Motorcraft brand will team with legendary Wood Brothers Racing to compete in the highest form of stock car racing. Motorcraft, a Ford Motor Company brand of automotive parts ranging from filters and spark plugs to engines and transmissions, will be the primary sponsor on the Wood Brothers #21 Sprint Cup Ford Fusion for nine races (see schedule below), beginning in February at the Daytona 500 and culminating with the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR champion driving a Coors/Motorcraft Thunderbird, is scheduled to be the driver for all of Motorcraft’s races. Elliott, Motorcraft and the Wood Brothers first joined forces in 2007. “We are very proud to continue our long-standing relationship with Wood Brothers Racing and Bill Elliott,” said Darryl Hazel, Ford Customer Service Division Vice President. “The Woods are synonymous with Ford, and we are thrilled to be associated with such a tremendous group of people.”
“We are very pleased to have Motorcraft back with us for the 2009 season,” said Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie Wood. “Motorcraft first sponsored us in 2001 and we value their involvement in the sport for the past nine years. They have been loyal to us, we have always been loyal to them and Ford. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like family. Without Ford Motor Company, the outlook for this season would probably be different.” The Wood Brothers are acknowledged pioneers in the sport of stock-car racing, and have earned 96 wins in over 50 years of NASCAR competition – second most in Ford Racing history. “Ford’s appreciation for our loyalty throughout the years is what kept us going, and, in turn, we keep on going for them, too,” said Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Len Wood. The nine races: Daytona, Atlanta [both], Texas [Apr], Charlotte [May], Michigan [June], Chicago, Indy and Homestead. Motorcraft offers a complete line of original equipment-approved parts that are designed, engineered, and recommended by Ford Motor Company. From routine maintenance to underhood and powertrain repairs, Motorcraft parts offer exceptional value with the highest quality and right fit at competitive prices. Motorcraft parts are available locally and are backed nationwide by Ford Motor Company’s Service Parts Limited Warranty. For more information, visit www.motorcraft.com.(PCG Campbell/Motorcraft/Quick Lane PR), see an image of the car on my #21 Team Schemes page.(1-22-2009)
- Transformers scheme for Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch is scheduled to drive the #18 M&M Transformers 2 Special paint scheme at the Infineon Raceway on June 21, 2009. See an image of the scheme on my #18 Team Schemes page.(1-22-2009)
News from January 21, 2009
- 2009 Schemes: added even more 2009 schemes including #42 Target, #96 Ask.com, #08 EM Motorsports, #11 FedEx Express, #18 M&M’s, #20 Home Depot to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.
- Burger King to sponsor Stewart for 2 races: Burger King Corp. announced that the company has signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Tony Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing. As part of the sponsorship agreement, BKC has two primary paint schemes on the #14 Sprint Cup car which will be featured at the July 4th Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway and the September 27th race at Dover International Speedway. The company also has a personal services agreement with Stewart that includes appearances in commercials, restaurant promotions and at BKC sponsored events. “I’m extremely happy to welcome Burger King Corp. to the team and really proud to be associated with such a great brand,” said Tony Stewart. “This demonstrates another important step in getting Stewart-Haas Racing ready for the season. I am a huge fan of Burger King restaurants, especially of the Whopper Sandwich, and even received my own customized BK Crown Card!” BKC will leverage the sponsorship both on and off the track, through comprehensive national marketing programs and promotions. “This sponsorship with Tony provides the perfect scenario to get back into NASCAR. His passion, both on and off the track, resonates very well with our core Burger King customers,” said Russ Klein, president, global marketing, strategy and innovation. “We’ve long understood the power of NASCAR, and its millions of fans, and are looking forward to an exciting season.” Additionally, BKC will be the exclusive quick service restaurant sponsor of Eldora Speedway in 2009, giving the company the chance to speak to fans on a grassroots level. Activation surrounding this sponsorship will include Burger King signage at the track, hospitality and other on-site activities.(Edelman/True Speed PR)(1-21-2009)
- Evernham, Kyle Petty take backseat on merged team: Ray Evernham and Kyle Petty are unlikely to have significant roles — if any — in the newly formed Richard Petty Motorsports. The team was created earlier this month when Petty Enterprises merged its sponsor-strapped organization with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. The new team name, RPM, was announced Monday. The elder Petty said Monday that Evernham, who sold controlling interest of Evernham Motorsports to the Gillett family in August 2007 and has acted since as a consultant, will continue in that capacity. Kyle Petty, who has been cutting back on his driving, will continue to do part-time work on TV and some sports car racing. “He’s been working his way out of the Cup situation,” Richard said. “As we go along in our process, from time to time we might want him to run a race or two.” The elder Petty, the seven-time Cup champion and one of the sport’s most recognizable names, said his role in the new team won’t be much different than what it has been. “I’m going to basically be doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the last eight or 10 years; nothing, as much as I can,” Petty said, drawing a laugh from the crowd at the NASCAR media tour. “I’ll just (be) doing the Richard Petty thing.”(Associated Press/ESPN)(1-21-2009)
- Bires to attempt Daytona 500: Kelly Bires will attempt to make his Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500 next month, but he probably won’t be too busy after that. On a week when he wrapped up a deal for the biggest race of his life, Bires also learned that he no longer has the promise of any Nationwide Series races with JTG Daugherty Racing. Michael McDowell brought sponsorship for the first 16 races, Bires said. Bires could race in the second half of the year if the team finds money, but he also is free to pursue other opportunities. Bires will drive for #51 Blackjack Racing, a new, part-time team out of the ARCA series, at Daytona. The car is an ex-Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge that became expendible when that team merged with DEI and switched to Chevrolets. “We could go there and run like crap, or we could go and run well and surprise a lot of people,” Bires said. “Anything beyond making the show is an added bonus. If we make the race, we’ll probably get more publicity out of that than I did out of a whole year and a half in the Nationwide Series.” Blackjack plans a limited schedule for its regular driver, Dexter Bean, but with only one NASCAR short-track race to his credit, Bean has not been approved by NASCAR to race on a superspeedway.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(1-21-2009)
- Shelmerdine plans to attempt all Cup races: hearing Kirk Shelmerdine and several partners have bought some of the Toyotas campaigned last year by #22 Bill Davis Racing and are trying to put a plan in place to run all the Sprint Cup races. Bill Davis Racing was bought by Triad Racing Technologies and supposedly they will not run any races in 2009.(1-21-2009)
- Writers David Poole, Mike Hembree awarded by NMPA: A pair of veteran racing writers have received top honors from the National Motorsports Press Association for their work in 2008. David Poole of The Charlotte Observer and Mike Hembree of NASCAR Scene were announced as the 2008 George Cunningham Award winners in the NMPA’s meetings at Concord, N.C. Poole’s feature story about a Kentucky girl’s relationship with Dale Earnhardt, headlined “Wessa’s lucky penny,” along with columns about track owner Bruton Smith, the 50th anniversary of Petty Enterprises and other topics, were cited in the daily newspaper/Internet division. Poole also won the Cunningham award in 2001, ’05 and 2006. Hembree’s recognition came for his work in the the non-daily paper division. He also took the honor last year and three other times (1992, ’95 and 2002) while working at the Greenville (SC) News.(Charlotte Observer)(1-21-2009)
- National Guard to sponsor Jeff Gordon? UPDATE 8 races: hearing that Jeff Gordon will be driving a National Guard scheme on the #24 Chevy in eight races in 2009, starting at Atlanta in March, have heard it will NOT effect the National Guard sponsorship of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.(11-23-2008)
UPDATE: This season, Gordon and the #24 team will help bring awareness to the National Guard’s community initiatives, such as the National Guard Youth Challenge, Active First, College First, Path to Honor and Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). The programs will be showcased on the #24 DuPont/National Guard Chevy in eight races this season: March 8 at Atlanta; April 5 at Texas; May 9 at Darlington; June 14 at Michigan; July 11 at Chicagoland; Sept. 12 at Richmond; Sept. 20 at New Hampshire and Oct. 25 at Martinsville.(HMS PR), see images of the scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(1-21-2009)
- Kvapil gets new crew chief: Despite several changes at Yates Racing, #28-Travis Kvapil is set to return behind the wheel for the organization. Kvapil has been confirmed for at least five Sprint Cup Series races in the #28 Yates Ford in 2009. Former Ford field manager Ben Leslie will serve as Kvapil’s crew chief this season.(FoxSports)(1-21-2009)
- Target to sponsor Montoya, 3 cars for EGR UPDATE: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced they have moved their long-time partner Target to the #42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya. It is a reunion for Target and Montoya as he paired with Target and Chip Ganassi Racing back in 1999 and 2000 during his early open-wheel days when he took the American motorsports world by storm, earning a series championship and an Indianapolis 500 crown. The Colombia native will make his “re-debut” in Target red on Jan. 24 when he competes in his third consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona in the #01 TELMEX car. He and his teammates have won the last two races and Ganassi’s teams have won the prestigious endurance race an unprecedented three consecutive years since 2006.
Target Celebrates 20th Season with Ganassi: The team’s partnership with Target continues to rank as one of the longest relationships in motorsports. Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990 and that same year established a partnership with Target. Today, Target remains the only full-time sponsor in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and the IndyCar Series. With the addition of Montoya and along with his IndyCar Series teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, Team Target now sports three drivers that have all won open-wheel championships and the Indianapolis 500.
Chip Ganassi, Managing Partner: “I am looking forward to reuniting Target and Montoya. They had quite a bit of success in their last stint together and to add Juan to a Team Target that already has Dixon and Franchitti in the IndyCar Series is going to be great for them. Target is a premium full-season sponsor and Montoya is a premium driver and putting them together is the right thing to do for everyone. There is little in my racing career I am more proud of than my team’s partnership with Target. We will be entering our 20th season with Target in 2009 and we could not be happier with adding Montoya to the Target mix. Juan and the whole 42 team did a lot of great things both on and off the track for Texaco/Havoline and Wrigley’s last year but aligning Juan and Target was the best move for our organization.”(Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)
AND Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates confirmed late Tuesday that it will campaign full-time Chevy for Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola in 2009, with a fourth car entered for the Daytona 500. No sponsor has been announced for Almirola’s #8 car, nor has a driver been picked for the fourth car [the #41], according to EGR President Steve Lauletta, who gave an impromptu press briefing late Tuesday during the Sprint Cup Media Tour Presented by Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Target will sponsor Montoya in the #42, with former co-primary Wrigley’s taking on a role as associate sponsor, Lauletta said. Bass Pros Shops will sponsor the #1 of Truex. “We kind of get the best of both worlds putting our 20-year relationship with Target on Juan. He won the Indy 500 with them before and then Wrigley’s can still continue to do their NASCAR programming around Juan and remain with the team.”
As far as Almirola’s car, Lauletta said, “We haven’t announced sponsorship programming for that, but we will here pretty soon. And then our plan is to run a fourth car at the Daytona 500. We’re working on some opportunities with that, and again we’ll announce that at a later date.” With the fourth car, its future is contingent on sponsorship. “If we can continue to run the fourth car past Daytona, we’re going to attempt to do that,” said Lauletta. “But as of right now, the plan is Daytona.”(SPEED)(1-20-2009)
UPDATE: Lauletta made official that longtime sponsor Target is moving from the #41 car without a driver to the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya. The 42 had sponsorship for only half the season with Wrigley’s, which will remain an associate sponsor. Lauletta said the #1 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. is sponsored for most of the season by Bass Pro Shops and that the company will extend that through the season if other sponsorship being sought falls through. He said multiple sponsors for the #8 of Aric Almirola would be announced soon along with sponsorship for the fourth car for at least the Daytona 500. There are several candidates to drive the fourth car, which will continue past the first race if sponsorship can be found. All four car numbers finished in the top 35 in points last season and will be guaranteed a spot in the 500. While the organization still utilizes the old DEI shop in Mooresville, N.C., for its seven-post machine and other technology, most of the work is being done out of Ganassi’s shop in Concord, N.C. Ganassi has shut down its engine operation and the team is using engines provided by Earnhardt Childress Racing.(ESPN)(1-21-2009)
- 2009 Schemes: added more 2009 schemes including #96 Ask.com, #07 Jack Daniel’s, #29 Pennzoil, #31 Caterpillar and #33 Cheerios to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.
News from January 20, 2009
- Mountain Dew scheme for Dale Jr: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a Mountain Dew paint scheme at Darlington Raceway on May 9th. See an image on my #88 Team Schemes page.(1-20-2009)
- Skinner to run for R3 Motorsports at Daytona: R3 Motorsports announced on Tuesday that Mike Skinner will attempt to qualify its #23 Chevy into the Daytona 500 this season. Crew chief Slugger Labbe will oversee the team. The former Craftsman Truck Series (now Camping World Truck Series) champion drove the #5 Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing last season. R3 team owner Rob Fuller says the team plans to run the first five races of the season and continue the schedule on a race-to-race basis depending on its success.(FoxSports)(1-20-2009)
- Search Engine, Ask.com, Clarifies NASCAR Partnership: Search engine, Ask.com, and operating business of IAC, has issued clarification with regard to its recent announcement concerning the Hall of Fame Racing Agreement. The arrangement involves Ask as the primary sponsor of the #96 Ask Ford in the Sprint Cup Series. Mary Osako, SVP Worldwide Communications at Ask.com remarked, ”To clarify, Ask.com will be the primary sponsor on the #96 car in 18 of the first 21 races, but the overall agreement with Hall of Fame Racing entails the purchase of primary sponsorship rights to 29 races in total for the 2009 season. We apologize for any confusion.”(Hosting News)(1-21-2009)
- No more Tradin’ Paint: Speed Channel will not bring back the show “Tradin Paint,’’ the show that featured John Roberts, Kyle Petty and a journalist discussing some of the issues of the day. The show will be replaced with what sounds like a game show based on NASCAR trivia for fans at the track. Roberts and Petty will remain with the show.(Virginian Pilot)(1-20-2009)
- Nationwide announces 2009 marketing campaign, “Dash 4 Cash”, and ESPN “Driver Pick ‘Em’ game”: Nationwide Insurance announced at NASCAR Nationwide Series media day that NASCAR racing superstar, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his company JR Motorsports will be featured in a new marketing campaign that will begin in February. The company also introduced other activities related to the sponsorship, including the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash, which involves an increased winner’s purse at four Nationwide Series races, and the Nationwide Series ESPN ‘Driver Pick ‘Em’ game presented by Nationwide Insurance, a weekly interactive competition for cash prizes that will be available on ESPN.com. Nationwide’s partnership with Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports, the company he owns that fields Nationwide Series teams, will include TV and radio advertising. In the ads, Earnhardt Jr. talks about his family’s 30-year history with Nationwide. Earnhardt Jr, is a current Nationwide customer – as are many other members of his family. The campaign will also involve personal appearances with Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports driver, Brad Keselowski. Nationwide has created an interactive micro site, nationwide.com/dalejr, which will feature behind the scenes videos and photos from the recent ad shoot. The final ads will be available on this site in mid-February. The campaign is a departure from previous Nationwide ads featuring celebrities. Despite the obvious opportunity for a racing pun, the ad does not include the company’s famous Life Comes at You Fast line and is not intended to be humorous. It’s framed as a customer testimonial, and true story from a family with one of the richest traditions in NASCAR.
Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash: Nationwide also introduced the ‘Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash’ that will add $25,000 to the winner’s purse at the 2009 Nationwide Series races at Nashville Superspeedway, Kentucky Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Memphis Motorsports Park. Drivers eligible for this competition include full-time Nationwide Series drivers and series regulars who are not full-time drivers on the Sprint Cup Series. If a driver who is not eligible wins one of the races, prize money will be rolled over to the next race in the competition. The program also includes a $50,000 season-end bonus to the eligible driver with the highest points total over the four races. “We wanted to provide some additional support for drivers on our series,” said Aman. “We also hope that these bonuses encourage competition and contribute to more exciting racing for the fans.”
ESPN ‘Driver Pick ‘Em’ presented by Nationwide Insurance: The Nationwide ‘Driver Pick’ Em’ contest is an interactive weekly contest on ESPN.com. Fans can log-in weekly to select the winners of 10 head-to-head match-ups for each Nationwide Series races. The contest will include cash prizes for weekly and season-long winners.(Nationwide PR)(1-20-2009)
- New Dodge Noses for 2009: NASCAR has approved a new nose for the 2009 Dodge Chargers, which should help the cars perform better on the so-called intermediate tracks of 1.5 to 2 miles in length. Those tracks, which make up nearly half of the Cup schedule, were the clear weak points for Dodge teams last year. “It’s very subtle changes to the nose,” said Penske Racing’s Roy McCauley, crew chief of the #12 Dodge Charger driven by David Stremme. “In fact, if you just took a quick glance at it, you might even miss it — some changes in the line structure around the headlight doors and things like that.”(SPEEDtv.com)(1-20-2009)
- Many sponsors for #43, #44: Richard Petty Racing’s new Executive Director of Racing Operations Ronnie Loomis says he expects both #44-A.J. Allmendinger and #43-Reed Sorenson to sport a number of different sponsors on their cars’ quarterpanels this season. Robbie Loomis told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway, “AJ will start the season with Valvoline on the #44 Dodge for the Daytona 500, and we’ll likely have multiple sponsors on both it and the #43 this season. We’d all love to sign a $30-million sponsor for each car, but the reality is that we’ll probably have a series of smaller backers.”(Sirius Speedway), see images on my #43 Team Schemes and #44 Team Schemes pages.(1-20-2009)
- NMPA honors Edwards, Warren and Roberts: The National Motorsports Press Association awarded Carl Edwards its annual NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year in recognition of his stellar performance in NASCAR’s top two divisions in 2008. “It’s an honor to win the Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award,’’ Edwards said. “The National Motorsports Press Association members see this sport from the inside out every week and it means a lot to me to be selected by that group as the Driver of the Year. It’s also humbling to look at the list of guys that have won this award. It’s amazing to be on that list.’’ Edwards finished as runner-up in both the Cup and Nationwide standings in 2008 for Roush Fenway Racing.
The late photographer T. Taylor Warren was selected as the recipient of the NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award, an annual award designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership.
Veteran publicist Tom Roberts was selected as the recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award by the NMPA. From February 1984 to June 2002, Roberts worked 539 consecutive NASCAR Cup races, representing sponsors, drivers and teams. During his career, he has represented such drivers as Bobby Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch. Presented annually since 2004, the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award is named after the former director of public relations for Talladega Superspeedway. The award is presented in conjunction with Talladega Superspeedway and recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry (team, track, and sanctioning body) who has exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated. Patterson died April 2, 2004, from complications of myelo dysplasia syndrome.(SPEEDtv.com)(1-20-2009)
- McMurray Makes Pit Stop at Walter Reed: Heeding our New President’s Call for a National Day of Service, McMurray Makes Pit Stop at Walter Reed. As volunteers across the country participate in the National Day of Volunteer and Service to honor and remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jamie McMurray, NASCAR driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford, took advantage of his time off the track to commemorate the holiday. Shortly after arriving in the Washington DC-area, McMurray along with Washington Redskins Director of Responsibility and former Pro-Bowler Ken Harvey, showed their support by visiting soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “This is a very historic and exciting time for our country, with millions of people inspired to find ways to give back,” said McMurray. “I can think of no better way to do my part than to pay my respects to those who devote their lives to our freedom through their national service.” McMurray will remain in the nation’s capitol through Inauguration Day, watching the parade at the Embassy of Canada on Pennsylvania Avenue where a tailgate party will be hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission.(Taylor PR)(1-20-2009)
- EGR cuts more jobs: And while this wasn’t officially on the Media Tour, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing cut another 40 jobs on Monday, making it a virtual certainty that the time won’t field more than two full-time cars next year.(Tom Jensen Online), see the unofficial layoff count on my Racing Jobs/School/Expos page.(1-20-2009)
News from January 19, 2009
- 2009 Schemes: added more 2009 schemes including #44 Valvoline, #77 Mobil 1, #43 McDonalds, #2 Miller Lite, #19 Best Buy, #19 Stanley Tools and #9 Budweiser to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.
- Farm Bureau Insurance to sponsor JGR for 6 races: Joe Gibbs Racing announced that the Farm Bureau Insurance Companies will serve as the primary sponsor for six Sprint Cup Series races during the 2009 season. Farm Bureau Insurance will be carried on the #11 Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin twice during the upcoming season including the May 9 race at Darlington and the September 6 race at Atlanta. In addition Farm Bureau Insurance will be on the #20 Toyota driven by Joey Logano at the October 25 race at Martinsville. Both FedEx and The Home Depot will still be represented on their respective cars at each of those races. Farm Bureau Insurance will also sponsor a fourth JGR entry at three races in 2009 on the #02 Toyota at the October 17 Charlotte race, the November 8 Texas race and the November 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead. The driver for those three races will be announced later. “Farm Bureau Insurance has been an outstanding partner with us and we’re thrilled to have them on these six Cup races this year,” said Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs. “We were able to generate a lot of excitement for them last year and we’ll work hard this year to provide their agents, members and customers a program to be proud of now in our Cup program.”(JGR PR)
IMAGES: see images of the cars on my #02 Team Schemes page, #11 Team Schemes page and/or #20 Team Schemes page.(1-19-2009)
- Farm Bureau Insurance to sponsor JGR for 6 races: Farm Bureau Insurance Racing is scheduled to run six Sprint Cup races 2009 with Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and TBA. The six races scheduled include:
Darlington in May with #11-Hamlin
Atlanta in Sept. with #11-Hamlin
Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Oct, with #20-Logano
Martinsville in Oct in the #02-driver TBA
Texas in Nov in the #02-driver TBA
Homestead in Nov in the #02-driver TBA
The PR: The 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule has been set, and Farm Bureau Insurance Racing is the lead sponsor for six of the races. And like the rest of our Farm Bureau Insurance Racing fans out there, we’re all ready for race day. Here’s what we know:
2009 marks the inaugural race year for the newest addition of the Farm Bureau Insurance Racing team – car #02 (also developed by Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Camry). But, as you will see, with this addition comes something of a mystery. Denny Hamlin will chew up the track in the first two races of the season in the #11 car at Darlington on May 9th and Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 6th. Then, in the #20 car, Joey Logano will take the wheel in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, on October 17th. However, the driver for the #02 car for the rest of the racing season-Martinsville Speedway on October 25th, Texas Motor Speedway on November 8th and Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22nd-is still being determined. Naturally, our enthusiasm and excitement about who will drive the #02 car is getting the best of us. While it is purely speculative at this point, even some of our Farm Bureau Insurance Racing fans have begun to entertain some theories and questions.
Q: Will Hamlin and Logano simply share the duties, trading off driving the #02?
Q: Will Kyle Busch-who achieved a stunning 1st place win in Texas in the last race of 2008-slide into the #02?
Q: Will Marc Davis-who was recently signed to Joe Gibbs Racing-become the driver for the #02 Farm Bureau Insurance Racing car?
We, of course, don’t yet know but we found the theory regarding Marc Davis to be of interest. Marc Davis is Joe Gibbs Racing’s latest driving prospect. Davis, an 18-year-old African-American from Silver Spring, Maryland, caught the attention of a number of people with his strong showing in the 2006 Limited Late Model and Late Model races at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina. After 2006, Davis moved up to the NASCAR Camping World Series East in 2007, and he continued to race at Camping World Series East in 2008, along with select events in the ARCA/REMAX Series. Davis became only the second African-American driver to win at Hickory Motor Speedway, an accomplishment first secured in April 2004 by former Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Chris Bristol. In his own performance, Marc Davis racked up six victories in his rookie season, along with six poles, 17 Top 5 finishes and 20 Top 10. When Davis appeared in the 13-race Camping World East races, Davis showed five Top 5 finishes and seven Top 10 finishes. Like Joey Logano, despite his youth, Davis comes to Joe Gibbs Racing with over 10 years of racing experience, and could very well be a strong candidate for the #02 car in 2009. See more at farmbureauinsuranceracing.com
AND: Marc Davis plans to make his Sprint Cup debut in his family owned #15 Toyota at Infineon Raceway in June, see more on my #15 Team News and Links page.
IMAGES: see images of the cars on my #02 Team Schemes page, #11 Team Schemes page and/or #20 Team Schemes page.(1-19-2009)
- Verizon sponsorship to Penske NNS team; new look for #12 Cup team in 2009 UPDATE: Penske Racing announced that it will team with Verizon Wireless to field a full-season entry in the 2009 Nationwide Series. The #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge will be driven by young standout Justin Allgaier, the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series champion. Allgaier made four Nationwide Series starts for Penske Racing in 2008 after joining the team in late September. The 22-year-old driver from Riverton, Illinois is looking to lead the team to a breakout season, beginning next month in Daytona. Penske Racing will also continue its participation in the Sprint Cup Series with the #12 Penske Dodge driven by David Stremme. He will be joined by teammates Kurt Busch in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge and Sam Hornish Jr., driving the #77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the three-car effort. Stremme, the 2003 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year, also promises to be extremely competitive in the coming season in Cup Series competition. The #12 Cup team also retains Roy McCauley as its crew chief. The #12 Penske Dodge will debut a new paint scheme in 2009, beginning with the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, February 7. “Penske Racing enjoyed a productive, winning relationship with Alltel over the last decade,” said Roger Penske, Chairman of Penske Racing. “We look forward to building on that solid foundation and in sharing many future successes with our new partner, Verizon Wireless.”(Penske Racing PR)
UPDATE: Verizon will fully fund the #12 Sprint Cup car of Penske Racing this season but the company’s logo and name will not be allowed on the paint scheme. “The [Cup] car will be identified and branded as the Penske Dodge Charger,” said Walt Czarnecki, the executive vice president of Penske Corporation. That means David Stremme, who replaces Ryan Newman in the #12, could find himself promoting Verizon even though the name can’t be on the car, thanks to a 2004 ruling after Nextel became the top series sponsor (it was since become Sprint). That ruling allowed existing wireless communication companies with teams and tracks to keep their sponsorship, unless a team or company changed hands. Verizon took over Alltel, the long-time sponsor of the #12, on Jan. 9. Earlier, the ruling forced Richard Childress Racing to seek a replacement for Cingular Wireless on the #31 car of Jeff Burton after it merged with AT&T and kept the AT&T name. Czarnecki doesn’t believe Penske will have to find a replacement for Verizon because of the multi-year deal it signed with Alltel. “Once the business transaction occurred NASCAR was kept fully informed of what was transpiring,” he said. “NASCAR has made it very clear, even with Alltel, what their requirements were as far as branding on the cars and branding at the track. We’re working with NASCAR and the people at Verizon. I believe we’ll be able to accommodate all of those requirements.” Verizon will be on the #12 Nationwide Series entry driven by Justin Allgaier.(ESPN)(1-19-2009)
- Riggs to drive for Baldwin: Tommy Baldwin Racing announced today Scott Riggs as the driver of the #36 Toyota for the 2009 NASCAR season. Riggs, formerly with Haas CNC Racing will start his sixth season in Sprint Cup competition. The 2009 season finds the 38-year-old native of Bahama, NC, eager to embark on a new chapter of his racing career, driving for the newly formed TBR team. Tommy Baldwin, who will hold the title of both owner and crew chief, announced the formation of his new race team earlier this month. “I look forward to working with Tommy,” Riggs said. “I think we can work together to build something really strong. I feel fortunate to work with someone like Tommy who has so much experience.” Riggs, with multiple years of experience at the Cup level and time behind the wheel in NASCAR’s COT, brings credibility and marketability to the new team. TBR, located at 604 Performance Road, in Mooresville, NC, plans on competing in the 51st running of the Daytona 500 in February with plans to run a full schedule in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. “Having Scott Riggs on board is a huge stepping stone for Tommy Baldwin Racing,” Said Baldwin. “He’s a top caliber driver, and I look forward to seeing the success we can have together.” No sponsor has been named yet for the #36 Toyota.(TBR/Everest Marketing Group)(1-19-2009)
- GEM is now RPM: At the top of Richard Petty’s list of deal-breakers when merger talks began between Petty Enterprises and Gillett Evernham Motorsports was to keep the Petty name in the title of the new company. He got his wish. The fourth Sprint Cup organization will be known as Richard Petty Motorsports and keep basically the same blue-and-red logo that symbolized Petty Enterprise for the past 60 years. “We come out to let the world know we’re still in the racing business and we’re going to be bigger and better than we’ve ever been,” Petty said Monday during an unveiling of the new logo on the first day of NASCAR’s Media Tour. Petty also asked that the #44 be kept along with the famous #43 in the transaction. The #44 will replace the #10 as the fourth car that belonged to GEM. AJ Allmendinger will drive in the first five races and is slated to run at least seven in the #44, a number the Pettys reclaimed from Michael Waltrip Racing after this past season. The #44 was driven by Kyle Petty until he switched to the #45 in 2000 in memory of his son, Adam, who was killed driving that number during a Nationwide Series practice session. The #44 was used sparingly by the Pettys from 2000 to 2003, and then was transferred to MWR in 2007 for Dale Jarrett. Petty said Budweiser, which sponsors Kasey Kahne and had logos on the other GEM cars prior to the merger, will not be on the 43 or 44. It has been a Petty tradition going back to Richard’s mother not to have alcohol-related sponsors on the cars. “My mother would come back and haunt us home,” Petty said of what would happen if Budweiser showed on up the 43 or 44.(ESPN)(1-19-2009)
- Menard to get owners pts from other Yates team UPDATE 38 to 96; 28 to 98: from a NASCAR Press Conference at Daytona for the Fanfest. NASCAR Ramsey Poston asked the questions: Has any determination been made at Yates what the point affiliation will be for your team? Are you going to start from scratch? Are you going to get one of the other cars on points, and is there more concern or more excitement about starting out the year with a totally new bunch and how critical is it going to be to gel quickly with that group?
PAUL MENARD [#98 Menard’s Ford]: As far as I know we’re getting points so we’ll be locked in. I’m not sure if it’s #28 or #38 points, but one of them will slide over.(NASCAR PR)(1-17-2009)
UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing today the #96 Ask.com Ford Fusion and Bobby Labonte as the manufacturers’ wild card entry into the famed Budweiser Shootout following NASCAR’s rule change on Friday. “The #96 joined the Ford family at the right time,” said Hall of Fame Racing Co-Owner, Tom Garfinkel. “We’re pleased to get Hall of Fame and Ask.com into the Shootout and have an early chance to start working towards solid top-five and top-10 finishes this season. We are pleased to be working with Bobby Labonte and Yates Racing and look forward to seeing this combination of talent come together for the first time in the Shootout.” Labonte and the #96 will also receive Yates Racing points from the #38, piloted by David Gilliland in 2008. The transfer will put the #96 in 27th position going into the Daytona 500 in February. Yates Racing’s #98 Menards Ford Fusion will start the 2009 season in 23rd position after a points transfer from the #28. Paul Menard will drive the machine for the full 2009 season. Travis Kvapil will start the season as a fresh entry in the #28 Yates Racing Ford. Sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Jon Sands with Yates Racing at 704-720-4621.(Yates Racing PR)(1-19-2009)
- GEM 4th team #44? looks like A.J. Allmendinger will drive the #44 Dodge for Gillett Evernham Motorsports and not the #10 Dodge, on the GEM site, it lists four Cup teams, #9, #19, #43, #44 with the driver of the #44 listed as A.J. Allmendinger, no sponsors, crew chief or crew yet listed.(1-19-2009)
- Triad Racing won’t race without sponsor…but: Marty Gaunt and Mike Held have found that since they bought Triad Racing Development and Bill Davis Racing [#22 Toyota] from Bill Davis, that there is a thriving market for chassis and engines. They also have found that with the current sponsorship market, it probably isn’t the right time to go racing. And in addition, if they’re supplying race teams with chassis and engines, they avoid a conflict of interest if they don’t compete. So for the time being, the new Triad Racing Technologies group will be happy being a supplier and not a racer, even though BDR’s [#22] Sprint Cup car finished last season 31st in owners points and is locked into the first five Cup races of 2009. “We don’t need to be there [as a race team],” Held said Saturday in a phone interview. “What we feel like is we need to have the best package on the race track, and that is the package of chassis and engines that can win races for our customers.” Of course, if a $15 million sponsor comes along, Held would reconsider. Gaunt wouldn’t totally rule out the #22 team running in the season opener at Daytona, but admitted it wasn’t promising. “We’ve heard and sat down and listened to a lot of opportunities,” Gaunt said when asked about teams outside the top 35 possibly being interested in forming a partnership to get the locked-in position. “At this time, we haven’t said concrete, absolutely not. What we’re saying it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to make Daytona or have a car participate in the series next year. But things change. If an opportunity came available where it was the right business decision and the funding was there, then we’ll look at it.” The group obviously will be involved in all three NASCAR national series as a supplier. Gaunt said the company has more than 80 employees. With that pick up in business, it likely means that the new group will not compete at all in Trucks, a series where BDR was a prominent player since Toyota’s entry into the series in 2004. BDR won the 2008 Truck title with Johnny Benson.(SceneDaily)(1-19-2009)
- How the NASCAR HOF business will be conducted: How the process is expected to work for nomination and election to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, scheduled to open in 2010 in Charlotte, N.C.:
In general, drivers as well as other candidates will be considered eligible after 10 years of competition or work in the industry. But careers of shorter duration can be considered under unusual circumstances. Individuals must be retired from the sport for at least three years.
Nominating committee (20 members)
Who: Seven top-ranking NASCAR officials (chairman of the board, president and five vice presidents); the NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director and its historian; two track owner representatives from International Speedway Corp. tracks, two from Speedway Motorsports tracks, one from Indianapolis, one from Dover and one from Pocono, and one representative from each of four historic short tracks – Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, Riverhead in New York and Irwindale in California.
How: Must nominate no more than 25 candidates by June each year.
Voting committee (47 members plus a fan vote)
Who: Members of the nominating committee plus 14 media representatives (three each from the National Motorsports Press Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Eastern Motorsports Press Association and one each from Fox, Turner, ESPN, Motor Racing Network and Performance Racing Network); one representative from each manufacturer, and three retired drivers, three retired owners and three retired crew chiefs. Fans will vote between June and Sept. 1 and their selections will count as one vote in the process.
When: Voting will be completed by Sept. 15.
Election and induction
The top five vote-getters each will be elected to the Hall of Fame. Ties will be broken by the Hall of Fame nominating committee. The class is scheduled to be announced in October with induction the following May.
NASCAR’s board of directors will designate a special exhibit honoring those who helped build the sport from its roots to current-day accomplishments that will be part of the Hall of Fame when it opens in 2010. These members will be permanently recognized at the Hall and additional members can be added in the future. Those selected among the “founding members” can also be nominated for election to the Hall of Fame.(Charlotte Observer), see more about the NASCAR HOF on my NASCAR Hall of Fame News and Links page.(1-19-2009)
- Villeneuve trying to find ride: Jacques Villeneuve appeared at the Canadian Motorsports Expo at the International Centre and spelled out just how hard it has been for him to attract enough sponsorship dollars to get his newly minted NASCAR career back on track. “It’s tough going,” he said. “There are still a bunch of (NASCAR) teams that are looking at getting funding for 2009 and I am spending virtually all my time trying to get (a deal) done.” The frustrating thing, of course, is that Villeneuve should be able to stand before any corporation in Canada, shake hands with a few company directors and come out with a wheel barrow full of cash to back any kind of racing venture that he wanted. After all, he has one of the most recognizable names in all of sports; his late father is worshipped on two continents and he is a two-time Canadian male athlete of the year. And at 37 years old, he still is young enough to drive at least five more seasons at the top of his game in NASCAR. All this, however, amounts to a hill of beans with the auto manufacturing world in a death spiral. “I am at my core an optimist,” Villeneuve said. “So I believe that even with current conditions something will happen to get me back in a race car this season.” One of the options he has is to go racing V8 Super Cars in Australia, a NASCAR-style series that races stock cars on road courses. “But I doubt I will do that,” he said. “My family is settled in Montreal and it wouldn’t be fair to uproot them for a few months racing in Australia.” Still, Villeneuve was adamant that his desire to compete in high-speed, high-level racing is as strong as it was when he won the CART championship back in 1995. Villeneuve is so focused on breaking into NASCAR that he has decided to forego another opportunity with team Peugeot to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans this spring. “Going back to Le Mans would take too much time away from pursuing NASCAR,” he said.(Toronto Sun)(1-19-2009)
News from January 18, 2009
- NMPA inducts three legends: The National Motorsports Press Association had its Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Saturday night. The banquet honored the newest inductees — Chris Economaki, T. Taylor Warren and Junie Donlavey — and took place in one large banquet room of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, NC.(in part from NASCAR This Week)(1-18-2009)
- Waltrip could retire arter 2009? from the 2009 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Daytona Fan Fest: Saturday news conference transcripts:
Q. Do you get the same sense of excitement or anticipation when you get ready to race as you do when you go on camera to do the funny NAPA commercials with Ron Capps?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I’m just real lucky, and I think the question earlier about would I have started my team, I’m all in. Me and Capps just finished our commercials for this year yesterday and the day before, and they’re awesome. I can’t wait for everyone to see them. That’s fun. When I get to go on TV and talk about truck racing, the last season of that truck racing were as fun as anything I’ve done hanging out with Phil and Rick and Al and all the folks on Speed. I love that. But I’m a race car driver, and when I came through that tunnel a minute ago here at Daytona, it almost brought tears to my eyes. It’s almost like coming home when you’ve had success here and you know the people that have won and the people that have lost their battles here. Just I love it. It’ll be interesting.
My goal is to go win some races this year, run up front so that I don’t have to say this is my last year. But if I don’t do those things, if I can’t compete at the level that Ruderman does or NAPA expects, then I probably won’t get to do this again in 2010. This is a real important year for me because I still love it. I’m still emotional about it. That’s a great feeling. I’m glad I have that. I’m glad I feel the way I do, and I’m also glad that I own my car, because if this is my last year then I’m fine, because that means I got somebody faster or better than me to drive my car in 2010, and that’s how it was supposed to be. I’m not going to be standing around thinking, “well, what am I going to do now?” I know exactly what I’m going to do now, I’m going to continue to be to try to influence my drivers and my team and my sponsors to be the best team that we can ever be.”(NASCAR PR)(1-18-2009)
- New Car Chief for Edwards: from the 2009 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Daytona Fan Fest: Saturday news conference transcripts:
Q. It’s hard to imagine your team being much stronger than it was at the end of last year, but you said you’ve added a couple people.
CARL EDWARDS: Right. Yeah, one person in particular sorry, go ahead and finish. Pierre Kuettel is going to be the car chief on the 99. Jason Myers was the car chief. He’s, I think, a really good example of guys really rallying for the team. Pierre came out and we won a championship in the Nationwide series together, and then Drew became my crew chief, P.K. looked at his options and said, hey, I’d like to be the car chief. When it was offered to him, he said, hey, I’ll do that, I’ll be the car chief on the Cup car again. We had so much success with P.K. on that team in 2005, I think having him come back and do this job is going to be a huge addition. At the same time we didn’t lose Jason Myers. He’s going to stay there, and I think for two guys to do that and make moves in a sport that from the outside would appear like downward moves so that we can go achieve a championship in the Cup Series, I’m so proud of those guys, so I’m so excited about it. I feel like we’re right back where we were in 2005 except we gained a championship level crew chief to car chief on my Cup car, and that’s cool.(NASCAR PR)(1-18-2009)
- Skinner looking for a ride, has Daytona 500 ride UPDATE: There are only three weeks until the NASCAR portion of Speed Weeks 2009 at Daytona International Speedway, and former Truck Series champion Mike Skinner is looking for a ride. Skinner has wheeled a Toyota for Bill Davis Racing since the end of the 2004 season. When Davis sold his team to Marty Gaunt and Mike Held last year, Skinner was told he had a job this season. “Two days before Christmas, I was told, ‘Everything was fine,’ ” Skinner said Wednesday. “New Year’s Day, they called me and said they weren’t racing.” Skinner’s job loss came to light during a media conference call with Lee White, who directs Toyota Racing Development, the car company’s racing arm. “There’s a lot of effort going on right now to find a seat for Mike Skinner,” White said. “Mike has been a great advocate for Toyota for four years. He’s done a lot of great work for us. He and (wife) Angie are loved within the company, and we’re working pretty hard with two or three other teams to find a quality seat in the Truck Series for him this year.” Skinner said he’s had discussions with several teams, including Randy Moss Motorsports. “What a great opportunity that would be,” he said. “It would be a great mix, you know, NASCAR and the NFL. “We haven’t gotten anything put together. I haven’t seen a contract yet. I’m sure we’ll get some help. I’ve only had five or six days to work on this.” Skinner said he was upset not only about losing his ride, but the way the situation was treated by Triad Racing Technologies, owned by Gaunt and Held. “I’ve never had a contract jerked from under me because people handled it wrong,” Skinner said. “I don’t want to bad mouth anybody, but this was not very professional. I’m just glad Toyota is still behind us and wants to help us.” Meanwhile, Skinner said he’s “99 percent” sure he has a ride for the Daytona 500, just a one-race deal. He’s not interested in returning to Sprint Cup as a full-time driver. “The Sprint Cup is fun, but I’m a racer, and I want to drive trucks,” he said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(1-15-2009)
UPDATE: Angie Skinner writes on the discussion board — Mike [Skinner] and I are driving up to NC today to meet with a potential team who seems excited to take on the #5 [Truck Series] guys and Skinner. Mike is looking to attempt the Daytona 500 in a car which Slugger Labbe is working on….this isn’t a full time team…just a fun attempt at the great race.(Mike Skinner.com)(1-18-2009)
- Swindell wins Chili Bowl, no luck for Kahne: Sammy Swindell put the finishing touches on a perfect week by racing to victory lane in Saturday night’s 23rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire 50-lap championship feature event, besting an event record of 281 competitors. Swindell survived a set of cautions in the final handful of circuits along with a foray or two above the turns one and two cushion to capture an unprecedented fifth Chili Bowl title and the coveted Golden Driller trophy that goes along with it. Swindell was chased to the line by Hines, with Brad Kuhn making a last-corner move around Jerry Coons, Jr., to snare the show position. J.J. Yeley rounded out the top five. Kasey Kahne’s day was cut short when he tangled with Jason Meyers while dicing for a transfer position just three laps short of the night’s first “C” Main.(ChiliBowl.com)(1-18-2009)
News from January 17, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Final Stage: Giniel De Villiers of South Africa won the Dakar Rally on Saturday, holding off Mark Miller of the United States and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon. De Villiers finished in 48:10:57 after driving more than 5,600 miles through Argentina, over the Andes and into Chile. He won the 14th and final stage from Cordoba to Buenos Aires in 1 hour, 35 minutes, 43 seconds in his Volkswagen. De Villiers defeated Miller, his Volkswagen teammate, by 8:59. Gordon drove a Hummer and finished 1:46:15 off the lead. De Villiers won four stages en route to his first overall title. He took the lead Thursday after Carlos Sainz of Spain withdrew after a crash. De Villiers led Miller by just over two minutes heading into the final stage. The Volkswagen win ended several years of Mitsubishi domination. Marc Coma of Spain won his second motorbike title in 52:14:33, nearly 90 minutes ahead of Cyril Despres of France. David Fretigne of France was third. The 30th Dakar Rally was held outside Africa for the first time. The 2008 race was canceled because of potential terrorist attacks in Mauritania.(ESPN/AP)
The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com, dakar.com and planetrobby.com
TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page.(1-17-2009)
- Menard to get owners pts from other Yates team: from a NASCAR Press Conference at Daytona for the Fanfest. NASCAR Ramsey Poston asked the questions: Has any determination been made at Yates what the point affiliation will be for your team? Are you going to start from scratch? Are you going to get one of the other cars on points, and is there more concern or more excitement about starting out the year with a totally new bunch and how critical is it going to be to gel quickly with that group?
PAUL MENARD [#98 Menard’s Ford]: As far as I know we’re getting points so we’ll be locked in. I’m not sure if it’s #28 or #38 points, but one of them will slide over.(NASCAR PR)(1-17-2009)
- Sad News – Sam Pistone: father of motorsports reporter Pete Pistone [CBS Sports/RacingOne], passed away in Arlington Heights, IL Wednesday night at the age of 78. Pistone worked with his brother, former NASCAR driver “Tiger” Tom Pistone in the 1950s and 1960s when the family team competed on the stock car racing scene of the Chicagoland area before moving on to the convertible and Grand National circuits of NASCAR. He is survived by his wife Pat and five children; Pete, Terri, Rose, Gina and Angela.(1-15-2009)
SERVICES: more info and services at The Daily Herald.(1-17-2009)
- Tire testing at Atlanta: In preparation for the upcoming Kobalt Tools 500 on March 6-8 at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is conducting a two-day tire test on Tues-Wed, January 20-21, to ensure the preeminent tire is ready for Atlanta’s Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend. The drivers scheduleed to test: #16-Biffle (Ford), #42-Montoya (Chevy), #77-Hornish Jr. (Dodge) and #82-Speed (Toyota). This session is closed to the public.(AMS PR)(1-17-2009)
- Earnhardt-Ganassi down to two teams? When Dale Earnhardt Inc. merged with Chip Ganassi Racing last year, the plan was to run four cars in NASCAR’s top series. It could be down to two. Driver #1-Martin Truex Jr. said Friday night that Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing is planning to field just three cars for next month’s Daytona 500 — with him, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #8-Aric Almirola behind the wheels. And Almirola said he has no guarantee to drive beyond the season-opening race because of sponsorship woes. “As far as I can tell, I believe three,” Truex Jr. said at NASCAR’s preseason tour at Daytona International Speedway. “I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on. … I believe that’s it. That’s about all I’ve got there. Montoya, me and Aric.” Truex Jr. and Montoya are fully sponsored for 2009, but Almirola conceded his lack of sponsorship could be a problem this season. “Chip and Teresa [Earnhardt] have to do whatever makes financial sense to them, and hopefully for me that means run 36 races,” Almirola said. “For them, I hope that’s the case because that means that they’ll have been able to afford to do that. Now, saying that, I don’t know. I’m not privy to look at their financial statements every week or every month, so I don’t know what they’re going to be willing to do and not do without a sponsor. The moral of the story is we need a sponsor badly. We need sponsorship dollars to be able to take our #8 Earnhardt-Ganassi with Felix Sabbatta’s Chevy to every single race that we can. We need sponsorship dollars.”(ESPN/AP)(1-17-2009)
- Robby to run a Dodge in Shootout: Sirius Speedway spoke to NASCAR representative Ramsey Poston today, and he confirmed that Robby Gordon is approved to run the Budweiser Shootout in a Dodge, before converting to Toyota for the remainder of Speedweek 2009. Gordon ran Dodges last season, but will campaign a Toyota in 2009. Both manufacturers have apparently signed-off on the arrangement. It is difficult to imagine why Dodge would approve of the deal, since it bumps Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish –a full-time Dodge driver in 2009 — out of the race. The ruling also raises some potentially explosive scenearios. For instance, Chip Ganassi’s #42 car finished 25th in owners points last year, running as a Dodge. Based on Gordon’s eligibility, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing could presumably build a Dodge and put Juan Pablo Montoya into the Shootout, bumping AJ Allmendinger.(Sirius Speedway)(1-17-2009)
- ARCA team to attempt Daytona 500: BlackJack Racing, an ARCA RE/MAX Series team from 2005-2007, plans to attempt to make the Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500. The team will use the #51 and run a Dodge. BlackJack Racing has one Nationwide Series start at Memphis Motorsports Park in 2006. BlackJack Racing will field an ARCA RE/MAX Series entry for driver Dexter Bean at Daytona next month. A formal announcement is expected within the next week. No word who will drive the car for the Daytrona 500 attrempt.(Catchfence.com)(1-17-2009)
- Chili Bowl this weekend: There are 293 entries in this year’s Chili Bowl at Tuson, OK. Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne, unemployed Cup driver Yeley, Nationwide Series regular Jason Leffler, former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel and P.J. Jones are among the veterans entered this year. NASCAR development drivers include Justin Allgaier, who will drive in the Nationwide Series this year, Josh Wise, Bryan Clauson, Ricky Stenhouse and Bobby East are also entered. More info at chilibowl.com (1-17-2009)
News from January 16, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 13: Spain’s Nani Roma (Mitsubishi) won the 13th stage of the Dakar Rally on Friday as the 2009 version prepares to conclude Saturday. Roma was more than seven minutes ahead of Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc (Nissan) and Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) when heavy rain cut the 13th stage short. Leader Giniel De Villiers finished the stage eighth, 14 minutes off the pace, but held on to his lead inherited Thursday when leader Carlos Sainz crashed out of the race. De Villiers lead is a scant two minutes 20 seconds on Volkswagen teammate Mark Miller, who finished the stage in seventh, 15 seconds in front of De Villiers. Robby Gordon (Hummer) was 16th in Stage 13, 22 minutes 49 seconds behind Roma. Gordon remains third with one stage remaining, 1 hour and 27 minutes behind De Villiers.(NASCAR.com)(1-16-2009)
- Bud Shootout adds wildcards: NASCAR announced Friday a revision to the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona format that provides each manufacturer with a ‘wild card’ entry, increasing the size of the field from 24 to 28 cars, highlighting the manufacturers’ involvement in NASCAR, and featuring more drivers for fans to support. The 31st annual season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway will be held on Saturday night, Feb. 7. As was announced last August, the lineup will consist of the top six teams from each manufacturer, based on the final 2008 car owner points. Eligibility is based on owners competing in this event with the same manufacturer as 2008. The new wrinkle calls for each manufacturer to be able to enter a seventh car, or “wild card” entry, based on the following criteria:
• Any owner outside of the top six in year end 2008 owners’ points whose driver is a past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion that attempted to qualify for all of the 2008 events (only one position will be filled per manufacturer and will be based on the most recent past champion per manufacturer).
• If an owner/manufacturer does not have a past champion driver, the next highest eligible owner outside the top six in year end 2008 owners’ points from each manufacturer will be eligible to compete in the event.
As previously announced, the race distance will be increased from 70 laps to 75 (187.5 miles) on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The race will have two segments of 25 and 50 laps. Both green- and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments, there will be a 10-minute pit stop at which time teams will pit and may elect to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.
Starting positions will again be determined by a blind draw, at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Thursday night, Feb. 5, on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4. As of today, cars eligible to compete in the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona would be as follows (using 2008 car numbers):
Chevrolet: 48, 29, 07, 31, 24, 88; wildcard #70 which will be #14 with Tony Stewart, past champ
Dodge: 9, 12, 2, 43, 19 , 7 [supposedly Gordon will run a Dodge for the race and switch to Toyota for the season]; wildcard #10
Toyota: 11, 20, 18, 83, 44[will be #00], 55; wildcard #22 [if the team runs]
Ford: 99, 16, 17, 6, 26, 28; wildcard #38
[the #28 and #38 may be switching numbers with #98-Menard and #96-Labonte](NASCAR PR), see more on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(1-16-2009)
- Keselowski seven race schedule set: Brad Keselowski will kick off his 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule by attempting to qualify for the March 1 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports this week finalized the Shelby 427 and six other Sprint Cup events for the 24-year-old driver. It was announced Jan. 7 that Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., will attempt a seven-race Sprint Cup schedule this season for Hendrick Motorsports in the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevys. The effort will be led by veteran crew chief Lance McGrew. “It’s exciting to have everything finalized and ready to go for 2009,” said Keselowski, who also will compete full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports. “We’re going to some tracks where I’m pretty confident, and we’re going to some places where I really need the additional seat time. I’m especially excited about going to Michigan. The track isn’t far from Rochester Hills, and it’s going to be really cool to race in front of all my family and friends. All the tracks we’re going to are great, but that one will definitely be a highlight for me. Scheduled races: Las Vegas, Texas [Apr], Darlington, Dover [May], Chicago, Michigan [Aug] and Kansas.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(1-16-2009)
- Reutimann to run full season for Waltrip: Michael Waltrip Racing owner Michael Waltrip says the #00 Toyota team for driver David Reutimann will run the full Sprint Cup season this year despite not having full sponsorship. Waltrip said on a national conference call with reporters on Wednesday that Reutimann will be sponsored by Aaron’s for “half a season” as the company steps up to the Cup series for the first time after many years as a Waltrip sponsor in what is now known as the Nationwide Series. Waltrip said the first race Reutimann would be without sponsorship would be the Feb. 22 event at Auto Club Speedway in California. The search for sponsorship for Reutimann continues, Waltrip said, and a potential backer would be getting a bargain. Waltrip’s car, the #55, will again be sponsored by NAPA. MWR is also in an alliance with JTG Daugherty Racing to field the #47 Toyota for Marcos Ambrose that is fully sponsored.(SceneDaily)(1-16-2009), see am image of the scheme on my #00 Team Schemes page and the Aaron’s 18 race sponsor schedule on my #00 Team News and Links page.(1-16-2009)
- Testing at many tracks: Sprint Cup Series teams are still testing and many with nearly the same frequency as before. They’re just getting their track time in at places other than California, Las Vegas and Daytona. #18-Kyle Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing team is at New Symrna Speedway working on brake packages. The teams used to do this type of work at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, but since NASCAR sanctions races there, Greenville is off the table. SPEED’s Bob Dilner talked to the New Symrna track officials, who said their testing schedule is booked solid, including a visit from Hendrick Motorsports. Teams also are testing at Rockingham. Roush Fenway Racing is at The Rock this week and the Gillett Evernham/Petty team arrives next week. Teams are also going to Pikes Peak, a one-mile, somewhat D-shaped track out in Colorado.(SPEEDtv)(1-16-2009)
- Langenstein honored as 2008 Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence: Charlie Langenstein, mechanical director for the Hendrick Motorsports # 24 and # 48 Sprint Cup Chevrolets driven by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson was awarded the 2008 Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence on December 19, 2008 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Spa in Concord, North Carolina during the annual Hendrick Motorsports Company Christmas Party. A 40 year motorsports veteran and 9 year employee of Hendrick Motorsports, Charlie was voted by his fellow teammates and company peers as the winner of this very prestigious award. While a select and deserving group of nominees throughout the Hendrick Motorsports complex were considered, Charlie Langenstein was selected as the person who stood out the most among this honored group. The Papa Joe Hendrick Award of Excellence was started in 1995 and each year a Hendrick Motorsports employee is selected. It is awarded annually to the Hendrick Motorsports team member displaying outstanding job performance, leadership, teamwork and contributions above and beyond expectations in order to help the organization succeed.(PR), see more on my Awards page.(1-16-2009)
- Gibbs to race sponsor: Arena Racing USA announced that Washington Redskins Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs will be appearing at the January 23rd Arena Racing event at the Hampton Coliseum. During his appearance, he will be racing Interstate Batteries Chairman, Norm Miller. They will be competing in two identical ArenaCars for bragging rights between them and possibly the first race of its kind with a top Sprint Cup Owner against his Sponsor.(Arena Racing) Joe Gibbs owns Joe Gibbs Racing and Norm Miller’s company, Interstate Batteries sponsor’s one of Gibb’s driver, #18-Kyle Busch in six 2009 races.(1-16-2009)
- “Earnhardt & Elvis” car to debut Feb. 27 at LVMS: Race fans attending Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Feb. 27-March 1 NASCAR Weekend will enjoy an added attraction as Motorsports Authentics, along with Elvis Presley Enterprises and Dale Earnhardt Inc., will unveil its new “Earnhardt & Elvis” car in the Neon Garage on Friday, Feb. 27. The “Earnhardt and Elvis” car, which features The King of Rock and Roll on the hood of the Intimidator’s famous #3 Chevrolet, is the third car in the Enduring Legends Series from Motorsports Authentics and Dale Earnhardt Inc. The series is in its second year and has been very well received by both NASCAR fans and collectors. Last year, Earnhardt was paired with American legends Johnny Cash and John Wayne. The worldwide unveiling of the “Earnhardt & Elvis” car will take place in LVMS’s Neon Garage during zMAX Pole Day and could include family members and friends of both the Earnhardt and Presley families. In addition, NASCAR fans also will be treated to a unique Elvis experience that will transform the Neon Garage into a Memphis music studio. For more information about the Enduring Legends Series, fans can log onto rccamembers.com or tune into SIRIUS’ “NASCAR Collector” every Saturday morning from 7-9 am EST on SIRIUS Channel 128. See full post at LVMS.com. See full PR on my Collectors News page.(1-16-2009)
- ServiceMaster Clean Inks Deal with ISC & SMI Race Tracks: ServiceMaster Clean announced that it has signed a unique partnership agreement to be the first-ever official sponsor of the caution period during races at International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI) race tracks across the nation. When there is a problem on the track, the ServiceMaster Clean Yellow Flag will wave, and the company’s familiar yellow trucks will be dispatched to clean the track. In racing, a yellow flag means cleaning. Restoration must be done quickly and professionally in order to get back to racing. In homes and businesses across North America, a yellow ServiceMaster Clean van means cleaning and restoration is being done quickly and professionally by America’s number one cleaning team. ServiceMaster Clean will have official and exclusive sponsorship of the Yellow Flag– now to be known as ServiceMaster Clean Caution periods – at all 19 ISC and SMI race tracks around the country. These racetracks feature 31 Sprint Cup, 24 Nationwide and 17 Camping World Truck Series races and hundreds of other racing events. In fact, there will hardly be a race for the next five years where ServiceMaster Clean does not have a large presence. All cleaning and drying vehicles and equipment will feature the ServiceMaster Clean logo and colors, and the clean-up teams will wear bright yellow ServiceMaster Clean jumpsuits. The multi-year agreement is not limited to what happens on the track, but also includes national coverage on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Performance Racing Network (PRN), hospitality events for franchise owners, the right to create and sell promotional merchandise and a host of other marketing opportunities designed to generate consistent visibility.(C4 Explosive Communications PR)(1-16-2009)
- Thieves Steal NASCAR Championship Ring: Lincoln County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating break-ins involving the theft of large amounts of jewelry and firearms. On Dec. 19, someone broke into a residence in the 5300 block of King Wilkinson Road in Denver, NC and stole a large amount of jewelry including a NASCAR 2008 Championship ring engraved with the victim’s name (Heffner), Hendrick Motorsports, and the number “48.” Daniel Heffner is an employee of Hendrick Motorsports. The ring is valued at $5,000. Also stolen were watches, bracelets, rings, and other jewelry items along with a laptop computer and 32” flat screen TV. Entry into the residence was made by prying open the back door. Detective Kelly Paris is also investigating a break-in in the 200 block of Clark Creek Road that occurred between December 24 and December 26, 2008. Someone forced open the front door and took a large amount of jewelry, old coins, a computer, and a bank bag containing valuable papers, firearms, cameras and other items. The firearms included several shotguns and rifles and three antique guns. Anyone with information about the crimes should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at 704-736-8856 or call Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909. If your tip to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest in either case, you will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 and you can remain anonymous.(email@example.com)(1-16-2009)
News from January 15, 2009
- McCreadie injured at Chili Bowl: Earlier Wednesday, 2006 Chili Bowl champion Tim McCreadie was injured in a crash during a preliminary event of the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, OK [chilibowl.com]. McCreadie, 34, was leading a qualifying semifinal when something broke in his car’s rear end. The car flipped violently and went over a fence. Examinations at a Tulsa hospital showed a fractured T3 vertebra and other damage. He was fitted for neck and back brace Thursday and was expected to consult with Dr. Terry Trammell, the renowned Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon. McCreadie won the 2006 World of Outlaws late model series championship. Although he has spent much of his career racing on dirt, in 2007 McCreadie competed in six NASCAR Nationwide Series events for Richard Childress Racing. Efforts were being made to set up a fund to assist McCreadie, who has no medical insurance, and offers of assistance with expenses have already started to come in from the racing community. For now, donations can be made to the U.S. Auto Club and sent to USAC c/o Tim McCreadie Support Fund, USAC, 4910 West 16th Street, Speedway, Ind. 46224.(Charlotte Observer)(1-15-2009)
- Sadler’s missing passport: His job secure, #19-Elliott Sadler can now turn his attention to his impending nuptials: He’s marrying Amanda Prince on Saturday and has major passport issues to resolve before the couple leave for their honeymoon in St. Lucia on Sunday. Sadler learned his passport had been reported stolen and red-flagged when he recently applied for a new one, and he’s been racing to take care of it. “The questions you’re giving me are pretty easy compared to the questions my wife will give me Sunday if I have to tell her we can’t go on the honeymoon,” Sadler joked to reporters. “I guess I’m a threat to national security.”(ESPN/AP)(1-15-2009)
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 12: Robby Gordon finished third in the 12th stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday, 25 minutes, 27 seconds behind winner Giniel De Villiers of South Africa, who took the overall lead with his third stage victory. Gordon also is third in the overall standings, 1:18:52 behind the leader. An American has never won the race in the event’s 30-year history. De Villiers won the stage in 4:06:43. Mark Miller of the United States, who was leading at the first two checkpoints, finished second, 16:17 behind. Carlos Sainz, who had won six of the 10 stages (Wednesday’s 11th stage was canceled because of heavy fog) and began Thursday’s leg more than 27 minutes ahead of Miller and 41:13 ahead of De Villiers, dropped out of the race after crashing into a ravine. He was not injured, but the two-time world rally champion from Spain and his French teammate Michel Perin were taken by helicopter to Fiambala, where the stage began, Dakar Rally spokeswoman Emilie Poucan told The Associated Press. Poucan said Sainz could have continued but Perin broke “something in his arm,” forcing the pair to pull out of the event. The rally covering 5,950 miles ends Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires.(NASCAR.com)
The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com, dakar.com and planetrobby.com
TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page.(1-15-2009)
- Verizon completes buy of Alltel…so…UPDATE: Verizon Wireless on Friday [1/9/2009] completed its $5.9 billion purchase of Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel Corp., making Verizon the nation’s largest mobile phone company. Verizon said Friday it will also take on $22.2 billion in Alltel debt. The buyout is expected to result in the loss of many of the best-paying positions among the nearly 3,000 employees at Alltel’s Little Rock headquarters. Verizon picks up Alltel’s 12.9 million customers, though 2.1 million of them are in territory that will be sold. Verizon will have 83.7 million total customers before the divestiture. Verizon says Alltel customers do not need to take any action at present, though they will soon receive a letter explaining the transition. Most will be able to keep their same handsets as Verizon and Alltel are on the same system. Alltel customers will see Verizon begin to place its own brand name starting in the second quarter, a process that will continue through the third quarter, Verizon said. As the transition is being made, Alltel’s retail stores will remain open. Verizon Wireless announced in June it would buy Alltel. The FCC approved the purchase in November after the Justice Department gave its approval in October. Verizon says the purchase will bring more than $9 billion in synergies from capital and operating expenses, after costs.(Associated Press), no word how this will affect the sponsorship of the #12 Alltel Penske Racing Dodge of David Stremme, Penske Racing has said in the past, they were good with Alltel thru 2009.(1-15-2009)
UPDATE: Last night (January 14, 2009) on “Dialed In” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Claire B. Lang spoke with Penkse Racing president Tim Cindric about Verizon’s purchase of Alltel Corp. and what effect it might have on Alltel’s sponsorship of the #12 Alltel Penske Racing Dodge of David Stremme.
Host Claire B. Lang: “You’re headed to Daytona. Alltel, at this point, is on the car?”
Penske Racing president Tim Cindric: “Certainly as we work through this I wouldn’t speculate in what form or how or how it is all going to turn out because we really haven’t gotten to the point where it makes sense to really speculate on how it’s going to look, how we’re going to present ourselves, what our strategy is going to be. Because we’re looking for some direction and in those situations sometimes you have to sit on the sidelines a little bit to understand exactly what all that means. And right now we’re just starting to get the focus of the people who make those kinds of decisions.”
Lang: “So the contract runs and stays?”
Cindric: “They (Verizon) take on the obligations of the people they acquire, I guess, and obviously they have stipulations with how they have to do their business when these things occur and I don’t pretend to understand it all.”
Lang: “You know for sure that NASCAR’s not going to let you take Alltel off the car and put Verizon on.”
Cindric: “That’s what I’ve understood. We’ve all watched how it all played out in the past. Anything that we do we certainly do in step with everybody else.”
Cindric: “The good thing with David [Stremme] is he’s really focused on driving the race car and letting the other things around him take their course. And to him, however it sorts out, he said to me, ‘As long as I know that I’ve got the best people behind me and the best efforts going forward the rest of it will sort itself out. I’m just fortunate to have this opportunity.’ That’s really the approach that when you hear that it’s refreshing because you know you have someone that has focus.”(SIRIUS NASCAR Radio)(1-15-2009)
- Toyota to cut back in NASCAR: The president of Toyota Racing Development said Wednesday he expects budget cuts in its NASCAR program as the Japanese automaker feels the effects of the global economic crisis. Typically immune from the declining sales that have rocked Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota recently said it anticipates its first yearly operating loss in 70 years for the fiscal year ending March 2009. The losses will have a ripple effect on Toyota’s racing program, TRD president Lee White predicted. “There is probably not anything on this earth here that Toyota is involved with now that is not under some level of review regarding budget expenditure,” White said in a national conference call. “That includes everything that we do, everything that TRD does and everything we do around motorsports. There is a review of everything. Certainly if contracts have expired, it’s very likely that contracts have not been renewed, or if they are being renewed, they are certainly being renegotiated.” As Chrysler, Ford and General Motors have struggled in this economic crisis — needing recent emergency government loans to avoid collapse — Toyota remained relatively healthy. Then came word of the automakers’ own losses:Toyota reported that its U.S. sales in December were down 37% on the year, a worse drop than Ford’s 32% drop and GM’s 31% slide. Toyota has also decided to suspend production at all 12 of its Japan plants for 11 days over February and March. The last time Toyota Motor Corp. halted production at all its Japan plants was in August 1993, when demand plunged because of a rising yen, and that was for only one day. Asked specifically where Toyota will be cutting, White said he didn’t expect any manufacturers to make on-track reductions. “In my opinion, the four automotive manufacturers … the last thing that you’ll see any of them reduce is cars on the race track with numbers on them competing,” he said. “That is what it takes to gain the hearts and minds of the consumer and hearts and minds of the fans. I think you’ll see the four manufacturers still out there, still being represented and still have cars going around the race track. There are different levels of trying to support that, and Toyota does it primarily with technology, parts and pieces, and engineering support. Those things are all under review.”(ESPN/AP)(1-15-2009)
- Sad News – Sam Pistone: father of motorsports reporter Pete Pistone [CBS Sports/RacingOne], passed away in Arlington Heights, IL Wednesday night at the age of 78. Pistone worked with his brother, former NASCAR driver “Tiger” Tom Pistone in the 1950s and 1960s when the family team competed on the stock car racing scene of the Chicagoland area before moving on to the convertible and Grand National circuits of NASCAR. He is survived by his wife Pat and five children; Pete, Terri, Rose, Gina and Angela.(1-15-2009)
- Gilliland out? David Gilliland appears to be the odd man out at Yates Racing, where the team says it will field three cars following its new partnership agreement with Hall of Fame Racing. Along with Paul Menard’s #98 [which supposedly would get the owners points from the #38] and Bobby Labonte’s #96, Travis Kvapil’s #28 team is expected to remain while Gilliland and the #38 appear to be out. “I just heard of the thing today, from the Internet, so that’s what I assume,” Gilliland said Wednesday afternoon. “I haven’t actually had a sit-down with them, but I’m still under contract with them through 2009. So we’re just going to have to work through it, and hopefully, we can get something else going.” Gilliland said he’s sorting through the contract and seeing what he’s able to do and what the next step could be, but he understands that the current economic climate makes it tough. He was “a little bit” shocked that he is now likely without a ride just a few weeks before the Daytona 500 and the start of the new Sprint Cup season. “It’s just kind of a bummer that it’s this late in the [offseason], you know?” he said. “We’ll just have to see what we can come up with and see what we can try and do.”(SceneDaily)(1-15-2009)
- Biffle to test at Texas World Speedway: on SPEED’s NASCAR Preseason Thunder show on Wednesday, #16-Greg Biffle said he and his team were going to Texas World Speedway on Thursday, January 15th, to test the 2-mile superspeedway and see how it measures up for a test track in 2009. Biffle didn’t say if other Roush teams/drivers would be part of the test.(1-15-2009)
- Skinner looking for a ride, has Daytona 500 ride: There are only three weeks until the NASCAR portion of Speed Weeks 2009 at Daytona International Speedway, and former Truck Series champion Mike Skinner is looking for a ride. Skinner has wheeled a Toyota for Bill Davis Racing since the end of the 2004 season. When Davis sold his team to Marty Gaunt and Mike Held last year, Skinner was told he had a job this season. “Two days before Christmas, I was told, ‘Everything was fine,’ ” Skinner said Wednesday. “New Year’s Day, they called me and said they weren’t racing.” Skinner’s job loss came to light during a media conference call with Lee White, who directs Toyota Racing Development, the car company’s racing arm. “There’s a lot of effort going on right now to find a seat for Mike Skinner,” White said. “Mike has been a great advocate for Toyota for four years. He’s done a lot of great work for us. He and (wife) Angie are loved within the company, and we’re working pretty hard with two or three other teams to find a quality seat in the Truck Series for him this year.” Skinner said he’s had discussions with several teams, including Randy Moss Motorsports. “What a great opportunity that would be,” he said. “It would be a great mix, you know, NASCAR and the NFL. “We haven’t gotten anything put together. I haven’t seen a contract yet. I’m sure we’ll get some help. I’ve only had five or six days to work on this.” Skinner said he was upset not only about losing his ride, but the way the situation was treated by Triad Racing Technologies, owned by Gaunt and Held. “I’ve never had a contract jerked from under me because people handled it wrong,” Skinner said. “I don’t want to bad mouth anybody, but this was not very professional. I’m just glad Toyota is still behind us and wants to help us.” Meanwhile, Skinner said he’s “99 percent” sure he has a ride for the Daytona 500, just a one-race deal. He’s not interested in returning to Sprint Cup as a full-time driver. “The Sprint Cup is fun, but I’m a racer, and I want to drive trucks,” he said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(1-15-2009)
- Hendrick drivers to pop up on Kellogg’s breakfast pastry: Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are coming to a breakfast aisle near you during the 2009 Sprint Cup season. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers will be featured on Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavored Limited Edition NASCAR Printed-Fun Pop-Tarts. In addition to the drivers, the team paint schemes and hauler designs will be printed on the individual Pop-Tarts pastries, which are Kellogg’s most popular morning food product. The limited edition Pop-Tarts also will include NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and driver trivia questions. The Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavored Limited Edition NASCAR Printed-Fun Pop-Tarts will be available throughout the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season at major retail outlets nationwide.(Hendrick Motorsports PR) Martin is scheduled to run special Pop Tart’s paint schemes at Las Vegas, Bristol in Aug, Richmond in Sept and Charlotte in Oct.(1-15-2009)
- Newman, #39 Crew Visit Fort Bragg For an Army 101: U.S. Army NASCAR driver Ryan Newman and crew members participated in a “greening” process Monday (Jan. 12) at Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command. The visit gave Newman and the team a glimpse into the strength of the Army Strong Soldier. The full-day of activities at the 167,000-acre U.S. Army post, located near Fayetteville, N.C., included stops at the Virtual Small Weapons Simulator, Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer, Weapons System Vault, Special Forces Sniper Weapons Range, Special Forces Live Fire Shoot House and the Special Forces Free Fall Training Facility. Not only did Newman and the #39 crew from the Stewart-Haas Racing organization enjoy each of the stops, they actually took part in firing weapons and experiencing the free fall simulator in the vertical wind tunnel, which is part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. “No question, we all left Fort Bragg even more impressed with the technology and training of the U.S. Army,” said Newman. “It was an amazing experience to get a back-stage type of tour. And to fire those incredible weapons was awesome. Probably the coolest thing we did was fly in the free fall simulator wind tunnel. It’s going to be an honor and a privilege to represent our Soldiers as the driver of the U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS this year.” Newman, an avid outdoorsman, was overwhelmed with the weapon technology, especially the M107 50-caliber long-range sniper rifle, which can engage a target up to 26 football fields (yes, 26). The 31-year-old South Bend, Ind. native and reigning Daytona 500 champion had a marksmanship quality with the M107, scoring an impressive number of target hits. “It was a thrill to pump some lead with the big weapons,” offered Newman. “In racing we stress speed, power, technology and teamwork,” Newman added. “It’s the same in the U.S. Army. That’s one of the really neat things about having the Army as a partner.”(US Army Racing PR)(1-15-2009)
- Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Media Tour: Approximately 200 print and electronic journalists from 19 states and as far away as Columbia, the Netherlands and Germany will convene in the heart of NASCAR race country next week as Lowe’s Motor Speedway hosts the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. An integral part of NASCAR’s pre-season schedule, the 27th edition
of this media event begins Monday morning, Jan. 19, and continues through Thursday afternoon, Jan. 22. With support from sponsors Sprint and NASCAR, the Media Tour gives credentialed participants the opportunity to tour race shops; interview drivers, crew chiefs and team owners; and discuss the latest developments and news with motorsports industry insiders. Journalists from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Miami, Fort Worth, Tampa and Montreal are among those registered to participate, representing such media outlets as USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, ESPN, The Associated Press, Time magazine and Sports Illustrated. Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Gillette Evernham Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Red Bull Racing are among the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams scheduled to host events. Ford will bring its Sprint Cup drivers and team owners together for a media availability session and media members will also get their initial look at the new SPEED Channel studios. In addition, the Media Tour will also make its annual visit to the NASCAR Research and Development Center.(LMS PR)(1-15-2009)
- Siegel close to leaving DEI UPDATE 2: A NASCAR team source told ESPN’s Kelly Naqi that Dale Earnhardt Inc. president of global operations Max Siegel is close to leaving the team. Siegel said he’s talking to DEI chief executive officer Teresa Earnhardt about his future plans with the team, which was part of a merger and has been renamed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. When contacted, Siegel said, “This has been a great opportunity and I have always been committed to doing what’s in the best interests of the sport and the company. I am currently in discussions with Teresa about how I can have the most positive impact on the future of DEI.”(ESPN.com)(1-11-2009)
UPDATE: Max L. Siegel, former president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., is rejoining Baker & Daniels to lead an expansion of the law firm’s sports and entertainment practice. Baker & Daniels says Siegel’s experience as an industry insider makes him “ideally suited” to head the team. Siegel, a native of Indianapolis, represents a variety of entertainers and athletes. At Dale Earnhardt Inc., he was the highest ranking African-American executive in the NASCAR industry. Siegel served on the executive team that produced pop artists like Britney Spears, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Siegel also has worked with gospel stars Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin, and he has represented sports athletes like Tony Gwynn and Reggie White. He was last with B&D from 1992 to 1994. Two of B&D’s past partners have taken new sports jobs. Jack Swarbrick and Fred Glass recently accepted athletic director positions at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, respectively.(Indianapolis Star)
AND Max Siegel on Wednesday announced he will step down as president of global operations at newly formed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing to run NASCAR’s diversity program. Siegel will continue to consult Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing on strategic initiatives on the business and marketing side through the new company he has started in conjunction with his former law firm, Baker and Daniels, which has offices worldwide.(ESPN.com)(1-14-2009)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR announced that Max Siegel and his new sports and entertainment marketing company, 909 Group, will be managing the industry’s Drive for Diversity initiative, which seeks to develop minority and female drivers and crew members. Siegel, along with a team to be announced, will take a hands-on approach on the day-to-day operations of Drive for Diversity; increase its reach inside and outside the sport; create mainstream marketing programs for the initiative; and further involve the entire NASCAR industry, particularly top-tier teams and sponsors.(NASCAR PR)(1-15-2009)
- David Stremme Racing signs driver: Ryan Glenski is making a big off-track move this year becoming the driver of the #35 Chevy in Pro All-Star Series (PASS) Late Model ride owned by NASCAR driver #12-David Stremme for the 2009 season. The 16-year old Glenski is coming off a successful season of Allison Legacy Series racing winning one race, one pole, eight top fives and 15 top-10 finishes to place fourth in points. He also drove in the Summer Shootout Series at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and won his first Pro Challenge Series race entered, doing so at the historic Bristol Motor Speedway last summer.(Speed51.com)(1-15-2009)
- Motorsports Show/Racing in Atlantic City: Race fans with cabin fever can get an off-season fix at the 24th annual Motorsports Racing Car Show in Atlantic City NJ [Jayski’s former home base area] this weekend [Jan 16-18]. Kevin Harvick, Dave Blaney and Joey Logano are scheduled to be on hand during the weekend to sign autographs along with Johnny Benson and David Starr. Ray Evernham, James Hylton, and Wally Dallenbach Sr. will appear Saturday. Several NHRA drag racers will also be on hand. The show runs from Friday to Sunday at the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center. The same weekend that nearby Boardwalk Hall hosts the Gambler’s Classic indoor races. More info on my Racing Jobs/Schools/Expos page (1-15-2009)
News from January 14, 2009
- Goodyear Tire Test at Phoenix: Several NASCAR teams were represented at Phoenix International Raceway Tuesday as the track hosted a Goodyear tire test to help the tire manufacturer gather data for the 2009 season. #20-Joey Logano represented Toyota, #26-Jamie McMurray drove for Ford, and #1-Martin Truex Jr. tested for Chevrolet. A team representing Dodge was also on site for the test, which was closed to the public.(PIR)(1-14-2009)
- Smith named to drive the #78 car: Furniture Row Racing announced Wednesday that Regan Smith, the 2008 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, will drive the team’s #78 Chevy in 2009. The team is cutting back its schedule for 2009, but will still enter 12 Sprint Cup races, beginning with the Feb. 15 season opener: the Daytona 500. “Furniture Row Racing is thrilled to obtain the driving services of Regan, who is one of the bright young talents in NASCAR,” said team President and General Manager Joe Garone. “His competitiveness and enthusiasm on the track speak for itself. In addition, he is a good fit for not only our sponsor but any partners looking for strong corporate representation in the Sprint Cup Series.” Smith, 25, competed in 34 Cup events for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2008 and became the first NASCAR sprint cup rookie to finish every race he started. The Cato, N.Y. native (25 miles west of Syracuse) started his Cup career in 2007 as a part-time driver for Ginn Racing. He joined DEI in the middle of 2007 when DEI and Ginn merged their racing operations. “I look forward to continuing my career in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevy,” said Smith. “Though it’s a single-car team that battles heavy odds against the mega multicar operations, the organization has always been highly respected in the garage for its use of some of the best equipment as well as an undying commitment to growing a winning team. That’s all a driver can ask for and I can’t wait to get to Daytona and compete in another superspeedway race.”
Team crew chief Jay Guy is also excited about Smith’s signing. “I look forward to continuing the growth of this Furniture Row team with Regan behind the wheel,” said Guy. “After racing against him in the Nationwide Series and seeing how much raw talent he has, I find myself both excited and optimistic for the 2009 season.”(KUSA 9 News)(1-14-2009)
- Penske: NASCAR may follow IRL on engines: Roger Penske said Monday the use of smaller race engines might not be just for the IndyCar Series, which expects to announce its powerplant plans later this month. The four-cylinder turbocharged configuration that Indy Racing League officials are considering could end up in NASCAR, too. “I think you’ll see that migrate even into NASCAR because that’s where we are today,” Penske said in a Bloomberg radio interview from the Detroit Auto Show. NASCAR is considering the IRL’s lead in the use of alternative fuel, but chief executive officer Brian France recently said no major engine changes are planned.(Indy Star)(1-14-2009)
- Teams test at GM Proving Grounds: Working around NASCAR’s test ban, fourteen teams will wrap up three days of testing their Chevy Impala’s at the General Motors Proving Grounds today in Mesa, Arizona. Richard Childress had all four of his Sprint Cup Series teams out there. #29-Kevin Harvick’s crew chief Todd Berrier also told PRN’s Garage Pass they will test later this month on the half-mile track built just outside the big track at Rockingham and they’ll shake down their road race cars at Virginia International Raceway.(PRN’s Garage Pass)(1-14-2009)
- Yates and HOF partner up, new sponsor UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing [#96] and Yates Racing [#28, #38, #98], are forging a relationship that is expected to include sponsorship from Ask.com, one of the few companies with new money to spend in the sport.(Sports Business Journal)(1-12-2009)
UPDATE – Ask.com Enters NASCAR with Multi-Faceted Partnerships: Ask.com, a leading search engine and an operating business of IAC, announced it has entered into partnerships NASCAR, NASCAR.com, and Hall of Fame Racing. Under the terms of the partnership with NASCAR, Ask becomes the Official Search Engine of NASCAR, with category exclusivity and a broad set of promotional rights in order to reach the sport’s estimated 75 million loyal fans.
“As part of our strategy to go deeper into the highest-volume categories and provide the best answer, the first time, every time, we want to be the first place fans search online for NASCAR information,” said Ask.com Chief Executive Officer Jim Safka. “Through these partnerships, we will break new ground by applying our semantic search technology capabilities to NASCAR-related content while also tapping one of the largest marketing channels in America. Our goal is to win over the millions of loyal fans by providing them with the best NASCAR search experience on the Web, and introduce them to all of Ask’s capabilities when they come.”
Ask.com’s agreement with Hall of Fame Racing will make Ask the primary sponsor of the #96 Ask Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, the sport’s premier level, giving the brand a frequent presence in front of NASCAR’s massive at-track crowds and broadcast audiences. Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte will pilot the car in 2009, beginning with the Daytona 500 in February.
Ask.com is also in discussions with NASCAR-sanctioned track operators and media rights holders to identify strategic opportunities that will allow the brand to reach the sport’s 75 million fans through on- and off-line channels during the 2009 NASCAR season, including at-track displays and in-arena media. Tom Garfinkel, Owner, Hall of Fame Racing: “Jeff Moorad and I are excited to add Ask.com as a primary sponsor on the #96 car. We’ve been working closely with Ask.com for several weeks now, and their talented management team has come up with more creative ideas to serve NASCAR fans than I’ve seen in a long time. With our new Yates partnership and having a true champion and class person in Bobby Labonte behind the wheel, we’re expecting great things on the race track as well.”
Bobby Labonte, Driver of the #96 Ask.com Ford: “I’m excited to be part of what Ask.com is bringing to our sport. In a time like this, it’s great to see a sponsor come in with technology and ideas that will help all of the competitors in NASCAR and enhance the experience for all of our fans, no matter which driver or team they cheer for.”(Ask.com/Taylor PR)(1-14-2009)
- Park back in the East Series in 2009: Steve Park and NDS Motorsports finished out the 2008 racing season 9th in points, with 3 top-five finishes and 8 top-tens and plan to battle for NASCAR East Series championship once again in ’09. “I’m really excited about the 2009 season. We had some really good results in 2008 and the team just kept getting stronger and stronger throughout the year. I am thrilled to be back with NDS Motorsports and everyone at Waste Management Recycle America. I think we will definitely be a contender for the championship this year and I’m really excited to get things started,” stated Park.(Steve Park site)(1-14-2009)
News from January 13, 2009
- Yates and HOF partner up, new sponsor UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing [#96] and Yates Racing [#28, #38, #98], are forging a relationship that is expected to include sponsorship from Ask.com, one of the few companies with new money to spend in the sport.(Sports Business Journal), no other details mentioned.(1-12-2009)
UPDATE: Yates Racing and Hall of Fame Racing (HOF) announced an alignment of their two teams. Under the agreement, Yates Racing will operate the #96 Sprint Cup entry of Hall of Fame Racing for the full 2009 Sprint Cup schedule. Doug Yates and Max Jones will continue as co-owners of Yates Racing, while Tom Garfinkel and Jeff Moorad will continue as co-owners of Hall of Fame Racing. With the recent expansion of the Yates Racing facilities, the #96 Ford Fusion will operate out of the Yates Racing complex, located in Concord, N.C. “This partnership with Hall of Fame is a great stepping stone for the Yates organization,” said Max Jones, co-owner and General Manager of Yates Racing. “Through this partnership, we are able to continue the expansion of our shop and field another Sprint Cup entry. We, along with Ford Racing, welcome Hall of Fame Racing and look forward to a very successful season.”
“Jeff Moorad and I knew it would take time to construct the right model to improve our competitive position in the sport and we think we’ve come a long way to achieving that through our association with Yates Racing,” said Tom Garfinkel, co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing. “We’re proud to be associated with Doug and Max and Ford Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.” The Hall of Fame Racing entry will make its competitive debut at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, February 12 during the Gatorade 150 qualifying races.(Yates Racing PR)(1-13-2009)
- Super 8 and Labonte?…..no: readers been emailing about Super 8 Motel’s being Bobby Labonte’s new sponsor, based off a Coca Cola ad/photo on their site which has Labonte dressed in a Super 8 Motel driver suit. But have been told that the photo shoot was in October 2008 when Labonte was still with Petty Enterprises and that Super 8, an associate sponsor with the Petty’s, have not been in contact with Labonte since. Supposedly, if Super 8 does sponsor a car, it may have a four race deal with the #43 car that is probably still in place and came over with the #43 in the GEM-Petty merger. Kyle Petty, a driver without a ride in 2009, is wearing a Victory Junction Gang Camp drivers suit, while the rest have on 2009 sponsors.(1-13-2009)
- Loomis to run racing operations at GEM-Petty: Robbie Loomis will serve as the executive director of racing operations for the team that will emerge from the merger of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings, and Kevin Buskirk and Sammy Johns will join existing GEM crew chiefs Kenny Francis and Mike Shiplett atop the pit boxes. All four crew chiefs will report to former Petty executive Loomis, according to GEM Director of Competition Mark McArdle. McArdle believes the planned merger and the realigned staff will help his team. Just having Richard Petty and longtime wrenchman Dale Inman at the team’s test last Friday in Rockingham, N.C., at the old North Carolina Motor Speedway was a plus, McArdle said. Loomis, who reports to McArdle, will oversee the race teams, pit crews, team management and team transport, and he ran the Rockingham test.
The merger and other departures have resulted in several changes at GEM with only Kahne and Kenny Francis remaining as the same driver-crew chief combination as last year. Kahne’s #9 team has had the fewest changes. Francis remains as crew chief. Keith Rodden returns as the team engineer after a one-season absence from the road, replacing engineer Chad Johnson, who moved to Michael Waltrip Racing. Todd Devinich remains the car chief.
On Sadler’s #19 car, Buskirk, most recently of Dale Earnhardt Inc., will be the crew chief in a reunion of sorts since he was the lead engineer for Sadler when he made the Chase at Robert Yates Racing in 2004. Kevin Kidd returns as the team engineer, while Wally Rogers, a former Kevin Harvick Inc. employee who joined GEM as its Nationwide Series crew chief in September 2008, will be the car chief. McArdle says most of that team has changed. He said he didn’t want to lose crew chief Rodney Childers, who opted to move to Michael Waltrip Racing and work with David Reutimann.
On Sorenson’s #43 car, Shiplett enters his second year as a crew chief after spending last season with the #10 team, mostly with drivers Patrick Carpentier and AJ Allmendinger. Phil Surgen will be the race engineer, and Tony Lunders will be the car chief. Surgen worked with Shiplett last year, while Lunders was with the #19 team last season. Many members of the #19 team from last year are now working on the #43 car, McArdle said.
Johns, who had been GEM’s executive director of operations for the shop, will work with the fourth team and likely with driver AJ Allmendinger. Although GEM hasn’t announced Allmendinger’s hiring, Johns and Allmendinger will be working together at a Goodyear test on Tuesday and Wednesday at Phoenix International Raceway. Mike Wolf will be lead engineer and Brian Dantinne moves from research and development to the role of car chief. In other changes, McArdle will take over the supervision of the engine department, while Tommy Wheeler will delve more into research and development. He will focus on the building of the race cars. As far as engines, McArdle said the team would not use the new Dodge engine until later in the season.(SceneDaily)(1-13-2009)
- Benning plans to attempt Daytona 500: In addition to Norm Benning’s plans to run the full ARCA schedule in 2009, he is going to make some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series attempts to help pay the bills. “I made seven out of eight Truck races last year, and we’ll try as many as we can this year. It helps pay the bills. I still love to race so much, you do what you can. In fact, we’re going to attempt to make the Cup race at Daytona and the Truck race, plus the ARCA race. That’s why I’m down here in Charlotte. The Cup car I bought is in the chassis dyno.”(ARCA Racing)(1-13-2009)
- Wimmer shares his trip to Iraq: Scott Wimmer was given the opportunity of a lifetime this past December. He and three other racers [Geoff Bodine, Arie Luyendyk Jr. Drag racer Hillary Will.] spent 12 days in Iraq visiting different bases and talking with troops. Wimmer says, “It’s something that I was looking to do for a long time. I really wanted to go overseas and see what the men and women of America were doing over there to help Iraq.” Scott Wimmer says this trip to Iraq is something he’ll never forget. He not only brought home hundreds of pictures to share, but also these short home videos. Some of their top experiences include getting to drive Bradley Tanks, Abrams and Humvees.(WKOW.com)(1-13-2009)
- AARWBA Titus Trophy to Schumacher: Tony Schumacher, whose record-setting NHRA drag racing season was capped with a fifth consecutive Top Fuel championship, was announced as winner of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy at Saturday night’s 39th annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association All-America Team [AARWBA] ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. In the closest margin in over a quarter-century, Schumacher edged NASCAR Sprint Cup titlist Jimmie Johnson by one vote. Shirley Muldowney received one vote more than Bobby Allison in 1982. The Titus Trophy is awarded to the driver who receives the most All-America Team votes. It is named in memory of the late journalist and racer, who was an AARWBA member. It is the highest honor offered by AARWBA, the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals. AARWBA members annually elect drivers to the Team from seven categories: Stock car, open-wheel, drag racing, road racing, short track, touring series and at-large. Other Team drivers to earn Horsepower Trophies were: Cruz Pedregon (drag racing); Johnson and Carl Edwards (stock car); Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves (open wheel); Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas and David Brabham/Scott Sharp (road racing); Johnny Benson and Justin Allgaier (touring series); Jerry Coons Jr. and Donny Schatz (short track); Jorg Bergmeister/Wolf Henzler and Raphael Matos (at-large).
Several special awards were presented:
Pioneer In Racing Award: Dave McClelland, the legendary NHRA announcer and broadcaster, was honored for longtime dedication and achievement that has made a difference in the sport. The Pioneer is one of AARWBA’s oldest and most prestigious awards and this was the first time it was presented to someone in the media. McClelland was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. Co-Chairperson Susan Wade made the introduction and presentation.
Jim Chapman Award: Judy Stropus received the honor for excellence in motorsports public relations. It is named in memory of Chapman, the late legendary PR executive, who was Babe Ruth’s PR rep and director of racing for CART series sponsor PPG Industries. Stropus, representing Don Schumacher Racing, was chosen by a blue-ribbon committee of journalists, all of whom knew Chapman. The plaque was presented by ceremony Co-Chairman Michael Knight and AARWBA Southern Vice President Mike Harris, both close friends of Chapman.
Appreciation Awards: Ford, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Porsche were recognized by President Dusty Brandel for their longtime support of the organization. All were represented at the ceremony.
Gorsline Scholarship: The 16th annual scholarship, given by John Gorsline of The Gorsline Co., went to Star Mazda series runner-up Joel Miller. The prize is awarded to an up-and-coming driver who displays the attributes of a future champion. Four-time SCCA Trans-Am champion and 1997 Titus winner Tommy Kendall made the presentation.(AARWBA PR)(1-13-2009)
- Changes for 2009 – Crew Chiefs UPDATED:
#00 [was #44] — Ryan Pemberton left to crew chief Brian Vickers for 2009, Rodney Childers comes from GEM to take over
#7 — made numerous crew chief changes in 2008, have heard nothing official, but heard that Kirk Almquist, who came to the team in late 2008, will be back
#8 — Supposedly Doug Randolph, formerly of DEI’s #15 team will be the new crew chief, replacing Gibson who left for Stewart-Haas’ #39
#10 — Crew chief Mike Shiplett moves to the #43, with Sammy Johns crew chiefing Allmendinger in the car
#14 [was #70] — Darian Grubbs comes over from Hendrick were he was an engineer, but has crew chiefed before with Jimmie Johnson, garnering two wins
#17 — Chip Bolin goes back to the engeneering side at Roush, Nationwide crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer takes over in 2009
#19 — Kevin Buskirk comes over from DEI, former crew chief, Rodney Childers left to go to MWR’s #00 team
#22 — TBA, as former crew chief Tommy Baldwin left and started his own team
#26 — Donnie Wingo, leaves Gannasi to take the crew chief gig for McMurray, Wingo had been a logtime crew chief at Gamassi’s
#33 — Shane Wilson will crew chief Bowyer RCR’s new team
#36/TBR — Tommy Baldwin will act as crew chief of his own team.
#38 — TBA, Cully Barraclough left at seasons end is is back as the car chief on a NNS ride for Roush, no word who Gilliland’s crew chief will be.
#39 — Tony Gibson comes over from DEI, Bootie Barker heads to MWR
#41 — Donnie Wingo left to crew chief McMurray in the #26. #41 has no driver named, nor a crew chief
#43 — Jeff Meendering left and went to Stewart-Haas racing as a car chief, with the team merging with GEM, Mike Shiplett moves over from the #10.
#47 — Frank Kerr will be the crew chief for Ambrose
#55 — Bootie Barker comes over from Haas CNC
#83 — Ryan Pemberton comes over form MWR to crew chief Vickers, former crew chief, Ricky Viers supposedly will take a management role with the team.
#96 — no word on if Steve Moyer returns as the team teams up with Yates and switches to Ford
#98 — Larry Carter comes over from Roush/McMurray to take over for Paul Menard and this new team.
Some crew chiefs looking for work include: Walter Giles, James Ince, Brad Parrott, Doug Richert, Buddy Sisco, Rick Viers
No Changes [so far] for the following teams: #’s 07,1,2,5,6,9,11,12,18,20,21,24,25,29,42,48,82,88,99. See my 2009 Cup Team Chart for more changes and info.(12-29-2008/1-13-2009)
News from January 12, 2009
- Yates and HOF partner up, new sponsor:: Hall of Fame Racing [#96] and Yates Racing [#28, #38, #98], are forging a relationship that is expected to include sponsorship from Ask.com, one of the few companies with new money to spend in the sport.(Sports Business Journal), no other details mentioned.(1-12-2009)
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 9: Carlos Sainz now leads the Dakar Rally by nearly 20 minutes following his victory on the ninth stage of the event from La Serena to Copiapo, his third consecutive stage win. The Spaniard was nearly two minutes quicker than VW team-mate Mark Miller, with Miller moving up to second place overall. NASCAR driver Robby Gordon was third, just two minutes behind Sainz. This is the third stage of the nine run that Gordon has finished third — his highest finish in a stage this year. Gordon remains fifth in the overall standings as the top-six drivers were unchanged after Stage 9. Dutchman Frans Verhoeven won the motorbike stage while Spain’s Marc Coma stayed more than one hour clear in the overall standings after finishing fourth.(NASCAR.com)
The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com, dakar.com and planetrobby.com
TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page.(1-12-2009)
- Labonte to #8? Target to #42? UPDATE: There have been numerous Bobby Labonte sightings at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, but the latest twist places the 2000 Cup champion in the #8 Chevy where he would be reunited with his former Petty crew chief Doug Randolph. Randolph moved to DEI last year to become crew chief for Paul Menard. Labonte worked with Jeff Meendering on the #43 Petty Dodge in 2007. Meendering has since left to be the car chief for Tony Stewart. It’s also been rumored that the Target sponsorship will move to the #42 Dodge and Juan Pablo Montoya.(Fox Sports)
BUT: Announced in mid-November, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing agreed to merge creating a Chevy-powered, four-car stable with Almirola in the #8 car, Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 car, and Montoya in the #42 car. The fourth driver in the #41 car could be Bobby Labonte with Target’s support but then again team leaders told Almirola he may slide into the car as well. “It is something they have kicked around and talked about,” Almirola said. “But really and truly we want to run four cars. That is the goal because everybody knows to be competitive you have to have a multi-car team. They have said if we have to run three cars it may be a possibility but it is not our goal.”(NASCAR.com)(1-11-2009)
UPDATE: Bobby Labonte in the #8, Juan Pablo Montoya in the #41, Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 and Aric Almirola in a part-time role. That is the scenario officials at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing are discussing, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com. Almirola was slated to drive the #8 vacated by Mark Martin this season, but the company was having trouble finding sponsorship for the untested driver. Labonte … according to sources, has drawn interest from several sponsors. Montoya drove the #42 during his first two years with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. But with that car only half sponsored by Wrigley’s and the #41 fully funded by Target, officials are looking to make the switch for what had become the top driver at Ganassi. Almirola would drive the fourth car in next month’s opener at Daytona and a select number of other races unless officials find a way to fully sponsor that car for the season.(ESPN.com)(1-12-2009)
- Deadline for team drug testing nears: NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck teams have one more week to file an initial list of crew members who have passed a drug test and are eligible for a NASCAR license. NASCAR issued a memo to teams last month, setting a Jan. 16 deadline for crew members, which includes all over-the-wall pit crew members, the crew chief, car chief, pit crew support, including team members that are responsible for tires, fuel, and pit crew operation, as well as spotters and race day support, including engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists, to have the test results. All tests must be conducted by a laboratory certified by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Teams do not need to submit the names of crewmen who don’t pass. NASCAR plans to oversee the testing of drivers itself, beginning the week of Jan. 20, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Thursday. According to NASCAR policy, any driver who fails a test will be indefinitely suspended.(Scene Daily)(1-12-2009)
- Ragan 4th in Late Model race: #6-David Ragan finished fourth in Sunday’s 100 lap Late Model race at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga.. John Wes Townley, a 2009 Raybestos rookie of the year candidate in the Nationwide Series, finished fifth.(1-12-2009)
News from January 11, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 8: Carlos Sainz of Spain extended his overall lead in the Dakar Rally on Sunday, winning an eighth stage swept by Volkswagen drivers. Sainz drove the 183 miles from the port city of Valparaiso to La Serena, on the rim of the Atacama Desert, in 3 hours, 47 minutes, 19 seconds. Volkswagen teammate Dieter Depping was 4 minutes, 2 seconds back and Mark Miller of the United States was third, another 10 seconds back. Miller is third in the overall standings and NASCAR star Robby Gordon remained in fifth overall after finishing the eighth stage eighth.(NASCAR.com) (1-11-2009)
- Siegel close to leaving DEI: A NASCAR team source told ESPN’s Kelly Naqi that Dale Earnhardt Inc. president of global operations Max Siegel is close to leaving the team. Siegel said he’s talking to DEI chief executive officer Teresa Earnhardt about his future plans with the team, which was part of a merger and has been renamed Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. When contacted, Siegel said, “This has been a great opportunity and I have always been committed to doing what’s in the best interests of the sport and the company. I am currently in discussions with Teresa about how I can have the most positive impact on the future of DEI.”(ESPN.com)(1-11-2009)
- Labonte to #8? Target to #42? There have been numerous Bobby Labonte sightings at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, but the latest twist places the 2000 Cup champion in the #8 Chevy where he would be reunited with his former Petty crew chief Doug Randolph. Randolph moved to DEI last year to become crew chief for Paul Menard. Labonte worked with Jeff Meendering on the #43 Petty Dodge in 2007. Meendering has since left to be the car chief for Tony Stewart. It’s also been rumored that the Target sponsorship will move to the #42 Dodge and Juan Pablo Montoya.(Fox Sports)
BUT: Announced in mid-November, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing agreed to merge creating a Chevy-powered, four-car stable with Almirola in the #8 car, Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 car, and Montoya in the #42 car. The fourth driver in the #41 car could be Bobby Labonte with Target’s support but then again team leaders told Almirola he may slide into the car as well. “It is something they have kicked around and talked about,” Almirola said. “But really and truly we want to run four cars. That is the goal because everybody knows to be competitive you have to have a multi-car team. They have said if we have to run three cars it may be a possibility but it is not our goal.”(NASCAR.com)(1-11-2009)
- Petty would like to find Cup ride: [Kyle] Petty’s plans for the 2009 season include driving in some Grand American races and continuing his television work. He also would like to obtain a Cup ride, but he knows that his efforts could be harmed by the economic downturn.(Associated Press/ESPN)(1-11-2009)
- MSRP Motorsports plans Daytona 500 attempt: Phil Parsons was on Tradin’ Paint on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio with Rick Benjamin and Chocolate Myers Friday and said he intends to put a car in the Daytona 500:
Rick Benjamin: “Chocolate and I had speculated a little – and you were one of the guys I had in mind – you might see some ARCA teams, some truck teams, some Nationwide teams go out – and we know there are ways you can acquire a Cup car. You can lease one, borrow one, buy one, whatever is takes and go put a car on the grid there. You do that with Randy Humphrey in the Nationwide Series. You had two cars last year. Are you thinking about doing that in the Cup Series in ’09?”
Phil Parsons: “We are. We are strongly considering that. We’re going to kind of let the chips fall where they may and see how many cars are going to be there but our intention is, right now, is to race the Daytona 500. Not park and start in park but race the Daytona 500.”(Sirius PR)
AND hearing that the car will be a Toyota and truck series regular Terry Cook will be the driver. MSRP, owned by Phil Parsons, Randy Humphrey, and their wives, competed full time in the Nationwide Series in 2008 with two cars, #90 & #91. The #90 was primarily driven by Johnny Chapman and competed in 31 races with a best finish of 35th. The #91 had a variety of drivers, mostly Larry Gunselman and Justin Hobgood, was in 30 races, and had a best finish of 38th.(1-11-2009)
- New crew chief for Sadler: The Gillett group is looking to re-establish Elliott Sadler’s winning ways by enlisting the help of his former crew chief, Kevin Buskirk. Although Buskirk, 55, is not a household name, as a team engineer he led Sadler to his last two wins at Robert Yates Racing in 2004 — the only season the driver qualified for the Chase. Buskirk’s diligence and leadership earned him employee of the year honors at RYR that season. In fall of 2005, he became interim crew chief for Sadler after Yates moved Todd Parrott to the #88 Ford. Buskirk moved to Richard Childress Racing in March of 2006 to work with Kevin Harvick and crew chief Todd Berrier. After making the commute to Welcome, N.C. — about an hour north of Charlotte — for several months, Buskirk returned to RYR. Most recently, Buskirk was hired by Dale Earnhardt Inc. to oversee the test team after Tony Eury Sr. left for JRMotorsports. Buskirk is expected to start with the team on Monday.(Fox Sports)(1-11-2009)
News from January 10, 2009
- Sorenson will drive #43: Tom Reddin, CEO of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, spoke to Sirius NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive Friday morning:
David Poole: “Will Reed Sorenson be in the #43 car and, if you make the deal with A.J. [Allmendinger] for the fourth car would that be the #10? Is that the plan?”
Reddin: “Yeah, pre-merger Reed is in the #10 but post-merger Reed will be in the #43 for next year.”
Poole: “What’s the sponsorship situation on that car?”
Reddin: “We’ve got the majority of the races sold but we still have some races to sell. So if anybody’s out there listening please give us a call. (laughs) But we’ve got the majority of the races sold and we’re going to be announcing a sponsor in a few weeks on that car. And, again, that was the #10 and it will become the #43. And then our fourth car, we’re working on the number right now, which number that will be, and we’ll probably have an answer on that within a couple of weeks.”(Sirius NASCAR PR)(1-10-2009)
- R3 Motosports plans several Cup races: R3 Motorsports owner Robert Richardson Sr. said his team has entered the Daytona 500 and could compete in a handful of other Sprint Cup races in the 2009 season. R3 plans to compete full time in the Nationwide Series this year with drivers Robert Richardson Jr. and Ken Butler III, with sponsorship from Mahindra Tractors and Aaron’s rentals. Richardson Sr. said his son as been approved for Cup tracks 2 miles and less in length, and the team has five Cup cars purchased from Dale Earnhardt Inc. “We’re expecting the Cup fields to be short as well this year, so in addition to our Nationwide car fleet, we’ve got five … cars sitting there ready to go,” Richardson Sr. said. The team will watch car counts in Cup races throughout the year, and if the fields are small enough, R3 will enter. Richardson Sr. said the team is talking to two veteran drivers about competing in the Daytona 500.(Scene Daily)(1-10-2009)
- Sound & Speed: For the fourth consecutive year, the world of country music and NASCAR will collide in Music City for Sprint Sound & Speed Presented by SunTrust on Jan. 9-10, 2009. The day-long Sound & Speed Festival is Saturday, Jan. 10 at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. See more info on the event and auctions on my Racing Charties page.(1-10-2009)
News from January 9, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 7: Carlos Sainz of Spain regained the overall lead of the Dakar Rally on Friday by winning a seventh stage in which NASCAR star Robby Gordon placed third, moving up to fifth overall. Sainz beat Volkswagen teammate Mark Miller of the United States by 3 minutes, 41 seconds to secure his third stage win of the race. Gordon was third in his Hummer, 4:13 back after the ride from the Argentine city of Mendoza to Santiago, Chile’s second largest city.(NASCAR.com)(1-9-2009)
- Sadler back in the #19: UPDATES: The Elliott Sadler Saga took another strange twist Thursday. Days after rumors began circulating that Sadler was set to be replaced at Gillett Evernham Motorsports by AJ Allmendinger and the threat of a lawsuit, Sadler will return to the GEM #19 Dodge, multiple sources have confirmed. Sadler’s return coincides with the official news that GEM and Petty Holdings had reached a deal to merge.(Fox Sports)(1-9-2008)
AND: When contacted for comment, GEM officials said they hoped to address Sadler’s situation in the near future.(NASCAR.com)(1-9-2009)
AND: How about Allmendinger, impressive as a late-season fill-in in GEM’s #10, stepping in as Sadler’s replacement? I [Tom Bowles] had a good conversation with his agent, Tara Ragan, [Wednesday] that cleared up a few things. Here’s the most important one to know: Allmendinger is NOT under contract with GEM, and remains looking for a ride. And according to Ragan, under no circumstances were there any sort of negotiations that revolved around Allmendinger trying to kick Sadler out of his ride. A free agent since being released from Team Red Bull in September, the Dinger’s simply been looking for a good fit with several teams, trying to align with one where he can race competitively over the long-term. While GEM was one of those opportunities out there, negotiating with the concept of kicking out a driver like Sadler was never on the mind of someone who just went through a similar experience not too long ago.(Sports Illustrated)(1-9-2009)
UPDATE: Gillett Evernham Motorsports and driver Elliott Sadler have reached an agreement that enables Sadler to retain his position as driver of the team’s #19 Dodge, thereby moving AJ Allmendinger to a part-time ride, multiple GEM sources told ESPN.com. It seems Allmendinger will drive a fourth GEM Dodge on a limited basis.(ESPN.com)(1-9-2009)
UPDATE 2: Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) announced that Elliott Sadler will drive the #19 Dodge in the 2009 Sprint Cup season.
Tom Reddin, GEM CEO: “We are a family. Sometimes in a family you have differences. We have resolved all differences. We are moving on and excited about heading to Daytona.”
Elliott Sadler: “I want to drive. I’m a racer and that’s what I do. We are all on the same page now and I think you will see that show on the track.”(GEM PR)(1-9-2009)
- Goodyear tire test at Texas: Just like usual in early January, #2-Kurt Busch was back in the cockpit of a car at a track doing testing. Except this was different. Busch was at Texas Motor Speedway instead of Daytona and taking part in a Goodyear tire test rather than an open test for Penske Racing. With NASCAR’s new ban on testing at all of its sanctioned tracks, including the traditional “preseason” Daytona 500 testing that usually would be taking place about now, the tire test at Texas provided a now-rare chance to run test laps on a track where Sprint Cup races will be held. #00-David Reutimann, who drives the primary car for Michael Waltrip Racing, said sponsorship for his car is lined up for only half the season. Despite the lack of sponsorship, Reutimann is confident that he will be able to run a full season and that limits on testing help ease some of the financial burden. Busch, Reutimann, #31-Jeff Burton and #28-Travis Kvapil participated in the Texas test, the first official session this season for Goodyear and likely the only NASCAR test of any kind on the 1 1/2-mile high-banked track that will host two Cup races this season.(Associated Press)(1-9-2009)
- Marc Davis to attempt some early NNS races, Cup later: Here they come already: the Davises. Driver Marc, 18, and his father, Harry, are doing it the old-fashioned way. They’re fielding a family-owned, barely sponsored, one-car team, fighting the odds and the big money. Marc and Harry Davis hope to open some sponsorship wallets with a part-time, family-owned venture in 2009. Marc Davis will try to qualify for six Nationwide races in a row, beginning just after Daytona, this winter. He’ll run two Toyotas his father has acquired. Then later this year they plan to enter a handful of Cup races. They’re still friends with Joe Gibbs Racing, where Marc has been a developmental driver and maintains a relationship, and with Randy Moss Motorsports and Roush Racing — all of whom tried to find major sponsorships to run Marc regularly in Nationwide or Trucks this season, but failed. But no more waiting. The Davises will do it themselves.(ESPN.com)(1-9-2009)
- Larry McClure to plead guilty on tax charges: UPDATE: #4-Morgan-McClure Motorsports co-founder Larry McClure will plead guilty to tax fraud, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va. McClure is scheduled to enter the guilty plea Jan. 15. A sentencing date has not been set. According to a plea agreement signed Monday by McClure and filed with the court, McClure will plead guilty to five counts, including the filing of false tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004, as well as making false statements to Internal Revenue Service investigators. According to the indictment, McClure did not report $325,000 of income obtained for the use of race cars in the ARCA series. By pleading guilty, McClure will have charges dismissed stemming from an alleged fraudulent invoice of $59,852 for the painting of show-car trailers. According to the plea agreement, McClure states that he realizes “there is a substantial likelihood I will be incarcerated” and that the United States “will recommend I receive a substantial sentence.” He states that he understands that he could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of 15 years (three years per count), but the U.S. district attorney will request reductions in the sentence. He will not be allowed to appeal his sentence. He also could be fined a maximum of $1.25 million. McClure, who was scheduled for trial Jan. 20, has agreed to pay $25,000 to the IRS for investigative costs and $59,852 to Eastman Kodak for the show-car trailer invoices. He also agreed to pay $125,000 prior to entering his guilty plea to go toward any fines that will be imposed as part of the sentence. He also agreed to file amended tax returns for the three years in question. As part of the agreement, the U.S. district attorney in western Virginia agrees not to prosecute McClure or the race team for any crimes it has knowledge about prior to the guilty plea. Morgan-McClure Motorsports competed in NASCAR Cup racing from 1983 to 2007 and won 14 Cup races. The team did not field a Cup car in 2008 but still had about 15 people working in the shop. The race team was not mentioned in the indictment.(SceneDaily), there have been rumors of the McClures attempting to make the Daytona 500 in a Ford running the #4, no driver mentioned, but have not confirmed it.(1-7-2009)
UPDATE: Morgan-McClure Motorsports co-founder Larry McClure, who will plead guilty to tax fraud Jan. 15, apologized for his actions Thursday afternoon. In a written statement issued through his attorney, McClure said he accepts responsibility for his actions. “I accept full responsibility for my actions in failing to report the said income while president of Morgan-McClure Motorsports,” McClure said in the statement. “I want to apologize to my wife, family, friends and business partners for any anguish or grief that this has caused them. All of our business operations will continue, and we remain very grateful for the members of the community that have supported our business over the years. With the support of my family, friends, church and my deep beliefs in Jesus Christ, we are going to move forward in this matter.”(Scene Daily)(1-9-2009)
- Labonte named to Presidents Council: President Bush has named the following to the Presidential Council for Physical Fitness, among others: NASCAR Driver Bobby Labonte, Mets GM Omar Minaya, NFL Giants QB Eli Manning, U.S. Sprinter Allyson Felix, WNBA Silver Stars C Ruth Riley, LSU Football Coach Les Miles And ESPN College Basketball Analyst Digger Phelps.(White House PR)(1-9-2009)
News from January 8, 2009
- Petty & Gillett Evernham Motorsports Announce Agreement To Merge: Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) and Petty Holdings announced an agreement in principle to form a new NASCAR Sprint Cup team co-owned by Richard Petty, Petty Holdings, owned by majority shareholder Boston Ventures, and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. The team will field four Dodge entries in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Details of the transaction are expected once the deal is closed. Petty and GEM officials anticipate a final agreement by the end of January. Some notes:
* The new team plans to run a fourth Dodge in eight races in the 2009 season including the Budweiser Shootout with additional races contingent on sponsorship.
* Ray Evernham retains a minority ownership role with the new team.
* Richard Petty and Petty Holdings will continue to own and operate the Richard Petty Driving Experience as an independent entity.
* Key Petty employees Robbie Loomis, Dale Inman and Brian Moffitt will also have active roles with the new team.
* The new team will use the GEM race shops in Statesville, N.C. and engine shop in Concord, N.C.
* GEM and Petty sponsors will continue with the new organization.(Gillett Evernham PR)(1-8-2009)
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 6: Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah won the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday to increase his overall lead. However he could face a time penalty after a review of whether al-Attiyah went through all the control points on a shortened 178-kilometer stage between San Rafael and Mendoza in Argentina. Al-Attiyah posted a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes to finish ahead 5:07 ahead of Giniel de Villiers of South Africa. Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon finished Stage 6 in 2 hours, 44 minutes, ninth-best. He remained seventh overall, 1 hour, 19 minutes behind Al-Attiyah.(NASCAR.com)(1-8-2009)
- Dodge: smaller budget, less team, high hopes: Although it will have fewer cars on the track and fewer promotional displays in cutting 30 percent of its NASCAR budget, Dodge has not cut back its Sprint Cup research and development for the 2009 season. The automaker hopes that even with fewer cars, it will have better results after a season where it failed to put a car in the Chase For The Sprint Cup. With Chip Ganassi Racing’s merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. eliminating three Cup teams from where Dodge started in 2008, Dodge has at least one fewer organization to support in 2009. Dodge could end up with only six cars next season if the pending Gillett Evernham Motorsports-Petty Enterprises merger eliminates two more from the manufacturer’s stable, which also included Robby Gordon in 2008. That leaves three cars at Penske Racing [#2,#12,#77] and three or four at the GEM-Petty consolidation [#9,#10?,#19,#43]. “You want to have a portfolio of drivers that can at any given time deliver a top-five or a victory,” said Mike Accavitti, director of the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands. “We feel with the lineup that we have remaining that we can do that. … The seven cars that we have – or eight cars or six cars or whatever it ends up to be – will be sufficient. We can give Dodge customers a good show. We can give NASCAR fans a good show and we can represent the brand well.” Accavitti said that his budget was set and would not get increased by the authorization of the bridge loan for Chrysler. He said it will remain at 30% below 2008, just as it was planned prior to President George W. Bush’s approval of the loan last month. “The entire operation was contingent upon the bridge loans being passed,” he said. “It was a critical element for the viability of our company and we’re very appreciative to have that behind us and be able to move forward.”(SceneDaily)(1-8-2009)
- GM renews sponsorship of Daytona: General Motors Corp. has renewed its decades-long sponsorship of the Daytona International Speedway and its signature stock car race, the Daytona 500, but at a cheaper price. And instead of a multi-year deal, the cash-strapped automaker will sponsor NASCAR’s most prestigious event on a year-to-year basis. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The renewal ends speculation that GM’s money woes, which have triggered a scaling back of corporate sponsorships, would force the automaker to terminate sponsorship of an event that was the top-rated motorsports telecast in North America last year. The multi-year deal expired Dec. 31. GM finalized the new deal Dec. 19, the same day President George W. Bush announced the Detroit automaker and Chrysler LLC would receive up to $17.4 billion in short-term loans. GM has sponsored Daytona for more than 40 years, and motorsports in general provide a prime marketing opportunity for automakers to reach customers who buy domestic vehicles at a rate higher than the national average. The race, which last year drew 33.5 million television viewers, is Feb. 15. GM provides fire and safety vehicles, pace cars and other vehicles for the race, as well as a July race at the track. GM did not disclose how much it spends on the Daytona deal or NASCAR sponsorships. Last year, GM had sponsorships at 12 tracks that host NASCAR events, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but three of those sponsorships have not been renewed. Chevrolet also is the official vehicle sponsor of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 held in September at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. That sponsorship expires this year.(Detroit News)(1-8-2009)
- NASCAR drivers on CMT Cribs: MTV Cribs is at it again, but this time its CMT Cribs, indulging in a new array of amazing abodes. We’re lounging in more homes of today’s hottest celebrities in the country. Packed with the latest in luxury. Get yourself strapped in speed demons because you’re about to hit the motorway with a super set of NASCAR homes right here on CMT. Sit tight while we cruise through the homes of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. The episode is scheduled to air Saturday, January 10th at 2:30pm/et. More info at cmt.com.(1-8-2009)
- McCauley to remain #12 crew chief: Penske Racing driver #12-David Stremme confirmed Wednesday that Roy McCauley will remain the team’s crew chief for the upcoming 2009 Sprint Cup season. McCauley has been crew chief of the #12 Penske team since the start of the 2008 season with driver Ryan Newman but wasn’t sure if he wanted to return to the team for this season. Stremme replaces Ryan Newman, who moved to Stewart-Haas Racing. Stremme said the three-car Penske organization has made some internal changes, moving people around between his team, Kurt Busch’s #2 team and Sam Hornish Jr.’s #77 team. Stremme also said Tom German, an engineer from Penske Racing’s IndyCar team, will be part of the NASCAR side of things.(SceneDaily)(1-8-2009)
News from January 7, 2009
- Keselowski to run 7 Cup races in 2009: GoDaddy.com extended its partnerships with JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports, which will give the world’s leading registrar of Internet domain names a significant presence in NASCAR’s top two series in 2009. This season, GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor for 20 Nationwide Series events with JR Motorsports and seven Sprint Cup Series races with Hendrick Motorsports. The company also will be an associate sponsor of Hendrick’s #5 Sprint Cup Chevys with driver Mark Martin. The pact includes two Nationwide Series races with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #5 Chevys of JR Motorsports. Earnhardt is a GoDaddy.com spokesperson. In addition, GoDaddy.com will back the #88 Chevys of JR Motorsports and driver Brad Keselowski in 18 Nationwide Series races. Keselowski, 24, also will attempt a seven-event Sprint Cup schedule in the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevys of Hendrick Motorsports. The Cup effort will be led by veteran crew chief Lance McGrew. Details of the Nationwide and Cup programs, including race dates, will be announced at a later time. GoDaddy.com’s first foray into auto racing came in December 2006 with the Indy Racing League’s Danica Patrick. The company moved into NASCAR last season as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series (two events), Nationwide Series (six events) and Camping World Truck Series (five events). The extension and expansion of the GoDaddy.com relationship completes the 2009 sponsorship picture for the #88 JR Motorsports Chevys. The company joins Unilever (11 races) and Delphi Corp. (six races) as primary sponsors of championship contender Keselowski in the Nationwide Series.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(1-7-2009)
- Tommy Baldwin Announces New Sprint Cup Team UPDATE Blaney?: Tommy Baldwin, a five-time Sprint Cup and former Daytona 500 winning crew chief announced the formation of a new Sprint Cup Series race team under the existing Tommy Baldwin Racing banner. The team, located at 604 Performance Road, in Mooresville, NC, is aggressively preparing its Toyota race cars with plans to compete in the 51st running of The Daytona 500 in February. The team plans to compete full-time in the Sprint Cup series. Baldwin is excited about his new program, “With tough economic times upon us, the timing for starting this team is right. Our overhead is low and we have a great group of talented mechanics and specialists to choose from. We can offer sponsors the chance to get into Sprint Cup racing at a fraction of the costs, without compromising on-track performance, due to our low overhead,” Baldwin said. Baldwin is no stranger to team ownership as he formed a successful Nationwide program which was responsible for bringing Unilever into the sport. Baldwin, a 12 year Sprint Cup veteran, later sold the team to what is now known as Gillette-Evernham Motorsports.
It was during his ownership of the Nationwide team that Baldwin began a business relationship with Joey Arrington, of Arrington Manufacturing, Inc., located in Martinsville, Va. Baldwin will secure his Sprint Cup engines in 2009 from Arrington Manufacturing who works closely with Toyota. “We are honored to be working with Tommy again, this time on his Cup efforts. He has always been great to work with and we are looking forward to a successful year,” said Arrington.
“We will do everything we can to support NASCAR and its fans,” Baldwin said. “We are thankful for the opportunity NASCAR offers as we are able to prepare our own car to compete in one of the nation’s top sporting events. That’s what makes NASCAR so different from the other major sports. It’s still attainable to be an owner, if you are willing to put the work in and I’m no stranger to hard work,” Baldwin added.(Everest Marketing PR), no driver, car# or sponsor was mentioned in the PR.(1-6-2009)
UPDATE: hearing that Dave Blaney will be the driver for Baldwin’s team.(1-7-2009)
- NO news on the GEM-Petty merger UPDATE: The expected Petty Enterprises-Gillett Evernham Motorsports merger likely won’t be announced Monday, and the Petty Enterprises shop was fairly quiet. There were only about 15 cars parked in the Petty parking lot Monday morning. Sources have indicated that the team has laid off most of its employees. It is expected that the two teams will merge, with Petty’s famed #43 car joining the GEM stable. With the #43 car guaranteed a spot in the first five races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and GEM’s #10 not guaranteed a position [but could move up with 2-3 others teams dropping out due to the Ganassi-DEI merger and BDR sell], the #43 could be driven by Reed Sorenson, who has already signed to drive for GEM. GEM also could face a lawsuit over its driver stable. Elliott Sadler, who reportedly has been dropped in favor of AJ Allmendinger, has filed a notice with North Carolina Superior Court in Statesville, N.C., that claims that GEM breached its contract with Sadler. GEM spokesman Drew Brown said Monday the company has no comment on the legal filing and that no announcements were planned for today [Monday].(SceneDaily)(1-6-2009)
UPDATE: Petty Enterprises cars were in the wind tunnel just a week before the organization’s officials told employees they would be laid off and that the team shop was shutting down, according to crew chief Stewart Cooper. Cooper, who was crew chief for the organization’s #45 Sprint Cup car for much of last season, said he wasn’t bitter with the way things ended at Petty. He said virtually all of the remaining 38 employees were laid off, with only Petty Enterprises Executive Vice President Robbie Loomis and a couple of others remaining. The organization is expected to merge with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, with an announcement expected as early as this week. “As of [early] last week we were working as if we were going to Daytona. … I really feel like it’s nobody’s fault,” Cooper said Tuesday night. “It’s just the way the dice fell this time. [Those of us laid off] will have to work through it and move on.” Cooper said he didn’t expect himself nor many of the former Petty employees to get hired by the new team, which is expected to work out of the Gillett Evernham shop in Statesville, N.C. “I left [my status] up to Robbie Loomis,” Cooper said. “I didn’t have any major conversations with Robbie about it. I really don’t think they’re going to take too many people up there. They had a full staff anyway [at GEM].”(SceneDaily)(1-7-2009)
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 5: South African Giniel de Villiers scored his first stage win of the 2009 Dakar Rally and moved into second place overall after Stage 5 on Wednesday. In the longest special of the rally so far — 506 kilometers from Neuquen to San Rafael in Chile — de Villiers mastered the sand dunes to reach the finish line in 5 hours, 47 minutes. Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon finished third and moved to seventh overall, 41 minutes, 48 seconds behind Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah. Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who led the rally entering Stage 5, lost more than 15 minutes after steering problems hampered his driving. He dropped to third place overall. Al-Attiyah, who won Stages 1 and 3, now leads de Villiers by 2 minutes, 24 seconds in the overall standings. After 14 stages covering the 9,574-kilometer (5,950-mile) circuit, the race will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires. Thursday’s route is a 395-kilometer drive from San Rafael to Mendoza.
Missing French motorcyclist Pascal Terry has been found dead, race organizers said on Wednesday. A statement on the race’s official Web site said the announcement of Terry’s death was made with “great sadness.” It is the first fatality on this year’s Dakar Rally, which has relocated to Argentina and Chile for its 31st edition. Terry, 49, had gone missing during the second stage on Sunday between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madrid. He was finally located in the early hours of Wednesday morning as the drivers and motorbikes prepared for the fifth leg from Neuquen to San Rafael. Terry, who was competing in the grueling rally for the first time, was found in dense vegetation, 15 meters from his bike. He had taken his helmet off and had sought shade, but had food and water with him. Local police are to carry out an investigation into the cause of his death.(NASCAR.com)
The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com, dakar.com and planetrobby.com
TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page.(1-7-2009)
- Larry McClure to plead guilty on tax charges: #4-Morgan-McClure Motorsports co-founder Larry McClure will plead guilty to tax fraud, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va. McClure is scheduled to enter the guilty plea Jan. 15. A sentencing date has not been set. According to a plea agreement signed Monday by McClure and filed with the court, McClure will plead guilty to five counts, including the filing of false tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004, as well as making false statements to Internal Revenue Service investigators. According to the indictment, McClure did not report $325,000 of income obtained for the use of race cars in the ARCA series. By pleading guilty, McClure will have charges dismissed stemming from an alleged fraudulent invoice of $59,852 for the painting of show-car trailers. According to the plea agreement, McClure states that he realizes “there is a substantial likelihood I will be incarcerated” and that the United States “will recommend I receive a substantial sentence.” He states that he understands that he could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of 15 years (three years per count), but the U.S. district attorney will request reductions in the sentence. He will not be allowed to appeal his sentence. He also could be fined a maximum of $1.25 million. McClure, who was scheduled for trial Jan. 20, has agreed to pay $25,000 to the IRS for investigative costs and $59,852 to Eastman Kodak for the show-car trailer invoices. He also agreed to pay $125,000 prior to entering his guilty plea to go toward any fines that will be imposed as part of the sentence. He also agreed to file amended tax returns for the three years in question. As part of the agreement, the U.S. district attorney in western Virginia agrees not to prosecute McClure or the race team for any crimes it has knowledge about prior to the guilty plea. Morgan-McClure Motorsports competed in NASCAR Cup racing from 1983 to 2007 and won 14 Cup races. The team did not field a Cup car in 2008 but still had about 15 people working in the shop. The race team was not mentioned in the indictment.(SceneDaily), there have been rumors of the McClures attempting to make the Daytona 500 in a Ford running the #4, no driver mentioned, but have not confirmed it.(1-7-2009)
- More on Sadler possible lawsuit against GEM: Elliott Sadler’s lawyer says his client does not want to be bought out of his contract with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. He wants to drive. Attorney John Buric said Monday that Sadler will file suit against Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, team owner George Gillett, Ray Evernham Enterprises and driver AJ Allmendinger, hoping to block Allmendinger from replacing Sadler this season in the #19 Dodge. “Our objective is to get in the car and race for them,” said Buric, “We have a contract with them. We intend to enforce that contract.” Sadler recently filed paperwork in Iredell County (NC) court, giving him until January 20th to file a breach of contract suit, if a settlement cannot be reached. Sadler learned from Christmas Eve media reports that GEM was negotiating with Allmendinger to replace him, and claims that he still has not been officially informed of the move by anyone associated with the team. Buric says Sadler received a phone call saying only that the team wants to buy him out of his contract. “We said we don’t want to be bought out,” said Buric. “Elliott has a contract that doesn’t expire until the end of 2010. He intends to race in 2009 and 2010.” He signed a two-year contract extension in May, which runs through the 2010 season. GEM officials have declined to comment.(Motorsports Soapbox)(1-7-2009)
- Hallam ready for new life in USA with role at MWR: Steve Hallam, an engineer and manager the past 27 years in Formula One, is settling into his new office at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) and a new life in America after leaving his post as head of operations for team McLaren based in Woking, Surrey, United Kingdom. In September, it was announced that Hallam would be making the move to MWR to work in NASCAR leaving behind a rich history in Formula One. He has now assumed his new role as Director of Competition after moving around the globe to North Carolina to set up shop in the 140,000 sq. ft. factory. “It would have been easy to stay at McLaren until I retired,” Hallam said. “But what attracted me to Michael Waltrip Racing was the opportunity to work with a young team and, in particular, to be part of the continued development and growth of the multi-car Cup operation as they strive to provide the best equipment and support for their teams. This is a great opportunity to join a closely knit team who are looking to build success by harnessing Toyota engines and technical support to build cars at a level where we can improve upon the tremendous foundation that has already been built.”(MWR PR)(1-7-2009)
- Jeff Gordon sells Colorado property: #24-Jeff Gordon has sold most of nearly 2,000 acres he owned in the high country above Missouri Heights [Colorado] to a development group headed by the man who created the Dallas National Golf Club in Texas a few years ago. And John MacDonald, formerly of the Ernst & Young accounting and consulting firm, said he plans to build much the same kind of project here as he did in Dallas. The course designer is to be golf architect Tom Fazio, who also designed the Dallas National course.
The deal has yet to close, said broker Scott Davidson of the Aspen Associates Realty Group. Gordon, who reportedly bought the land outside of Carbondale in 2006 for $9 million, was not even thinking of selling the land until MacDonald approached him. But over time he became convinced it was the thing to do, according to John Bickford, Gordon’s stepfather and business manager. “I found it by actually driving around and looking for golf property,” MacDonald said of the deal, adding with a hearty laugh, “It took a while, but I wore him down.” Gordon retains a 50-acre parcel of his own, as well as “a couple of memberships in the club,” MacDonald said. Gordon’s parcel overlooks the proposed golf course site but is not near it, MacDonald said, stressing that the 300-acre golf course will not be peppered with homes, as are a number of other golf subdivisions that have sprung up in the Roaring Fork Valley. Bickford and MacDonald both noted that the property butts up against a neighboring development known as High Aspen Ranch and another called The Ranch at Coulter Creek. He said that some of the homeowners in those subdivisions are likely members of his proposed golf club.(in part from the Aspen Times)(1-7-2009)
News from January 6, 2009
- Tommy Baldwin Announces New Sprint Cup Team: Tommy Baldwin, a five-time Sprint Cup and former Daytona 500 winning crew chief announced the formation of a new Sprint Cup Series race team under the existing Tommy Baldwin Racing banner.
The team, located at 604 Performance Road, in Mooresville, NC, is aggressively preparing its Toyota race cars with plans to compete in the 51st running of The Daytona 500 in February. The team plans to compete full-time in the Sprint Cup series. Baldwin is excited about his new program, “With tough economic times upon us, the timing for starting this team is right. Our overhead is low and we have a great group of talented mechanics and specialists to choose from. We can offer sponsors the chance to get into Sprint Cup racing at a fraction of the costs, without compromising on-track performance, due to our low overhead,” Baldwin said. Baldwin is no stranger to team ownership as he formed a successful Nationwide program which was responsible for bringing Unilever into the sport. Baldwin, a 12 year Sprint Cup veteran, later sold the team to what is now known as Gillette-Evernham Motorsports.
It was during his ownership of the Nationwide team that Baldwin began a business relationship with Joey Arrington, of Arrington Manufacturing, Inc., located in Martinsville, Va. Baldwin will secure his Sprint Cup engines in 2009 from Arrington Manufacturing who works closely with Toyota. “We are honored to be working with Tommy again, this time on his Cup efforts. He has always been great to work with and we are looking forward to a successful year,” said Arrington.
“We will do everything we can to support NASCAR and its fans,” Baldwin said. “We are thankful for the opportunity NASCAR offers as we are able to prepare our own car to compete in one of the nation’s top sporting events. That’s what makes NASCAR so different from the other major sports. It’s still attainable to be an owner, if you are willing to put the work in and I’m no stranger to hard work,” Baldwin added.(Everest Marketing PR), no driver, car# or sponsor was mentioned in the PR.(1-6-2009)
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 4: Spaniards dominated the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally on Tuesday as Carlos Sainz beat Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar by six seconds and Marc Coma again won the motorbike stage. Sainz, who also won the rally’s second stage, finished the 459-kilometer (285-mile) ride in 3 hours, 42 minutes, 57 minutes in his Volkswagen — six seconds ahead of Al Attiyah, who won the first and third stages through Argentina and Chile. Al Attiyah in his BMW beat Sainz by 35 seconds in the third stage, but the Argentine leads overall and is 3:46 ahead of Al Attiyah. Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon remains in ninth place, 46:45 behind Sainz. Mark Miller from the United States was fourth, 4:20 behind his Volkswagen teammate, Sainz. Argentine dust rather than African sand has been an added obstacle on the terrain. A persistent drought has turned massive amounts of Argentina’s soil to dust, forcing drivers to navigate through clouds of brown dirt. Cars, trucks and motorbikes have often disappeared behind dust, spraying thousands of fans who have gathered to watch along the route, now passing through isolated towns and villages in southern Argentina. The 30th edition of the classic rally started from Buenos Aires on Friday with 177 cars, 217 motorcycles, 81 trucks and 25 quad bikes and features drivers from 49 countries. After 14 stages covering the 9,574-kilometer (5,950-mile) circuit, it will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires. Wednesday’s route is a 506-kilometer (314-mile) drive from Neuquen to San Rafael.(NASCAR.com)(1-6-2009)
- Expanded Roles for Massaro, Reid, Welch on ESPN: Three veterans of ESPN’s motorsports team, Mike Massaro, Marty Reid and Vince Welch, will have new NASCAR responsibilities on ESPN in 2009.
Massaro, who has been a NASCAR pit reporter the past two years, will join Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick as host of NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program. Massaro and Manske will share the primary host role on a rotating basis, while Bestwick will continue as host of the Monday roundtable discussion edition. Massaro will still work the pits for selected Nationwide Series telecasts.
Reid, who has been the lead announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series the past three years, as well as a play-by-play announcer for selected Nationwide Series telecasts the past two years, will see his NASCAR appearances increase. Reid will be the play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series for much of the second half of the season, after ESPN begins its 17-race coverage of the Sprint Cup Series. Dr. Jerry Punch will continue as play-by-play announcer for the Sprint Cup coverage and for the Nationwide Series in the first half of the season. Reid will be lead announcer for the Indianapolis 500 and ESPN on ABC’s four other races on the IndyCar Series.
Welch will become one of ESPN’s four primary NASCAR pit reporters for 2009 after having worked selected NASCAR races the past two years while serving as a fulltime pit reporter for ESPN’s IndyCar Series coverage. He will work all of ESPN’s Sprint Cup telecasts in the second half of the year along with multiple Nationwide Series races throughout the season. In addition, Welch will be a pit reporter for ESPN on ABC’s five-race IndyCar Series coverage, including the Indianapolis 500.
The rest of ESPN’s team of announcers, analysts and reporters for NASCAR will return in 2009. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will be lead analysts for the race telecasts, joining Punch and Reid in the booth, while Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Shannon Spake will again be pit reporters. Tim Brewer will continue as analyst in the ESPN Tech Center.
Bestwick will continue to host the pre-race NASCAR Countdown program from the ESPN Pit Studio, with analysis by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Analyst Ray Evernham will join NASCAR Countdown for selected races and will continue his role as an analyst on NASCAR Now and other ESPN studio programs. Wallace and Evernham will work selected Nationwide Series telecasts as analysts in the booth, filling in for Jarrett and Petree.
NASCAR Now returns on Monday, Feb. 2, while ESPN’s live NASCAR racing for 2009 begins with flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 14, on ESPN2.(ESPN PR)(1-6-2009)
- BDR Employees Laid-Off; But…UPDATE no Truck Teams? ….are hearing that most of Bill Davis Racing’s employees were laid-off earlier this week following the sale of the team to Marty Gaunt and Mike Held. Despite the bad news, all team members are getting a chance to reapply for their position with the team. They will begin bringing back employees after the first of the year. The move appears to be an attempt at restructuring the organization. By doing this, they can cut loose any employees they do not want while removing any seniority and cutting salaries they might see as high. Given the present climate, it is very much an owner’s market. There are a lot of talented people who are looking for work and those with an opportunity to stay where they are at are very likely to take a pay cut in order to avoid job loss.(NASCAR Insiders)(12-28-2008)
UPDATE: hearing that Triad Racing Technologies has not re-hired many of the people laid off and that the team will only attempt to run the Sprint Cup Series along with chassis, engines and tech support to other teams. And supposedly will not run ANY Truck Series team leaving driver Mike Skinner looking for a ride.(1-6-2009)
- NO news on the GEM-Petty merger: The expected Petty Enterprises-Gillett Evernham Motorsports merger likely won’t be announced Monday, and the Petty Enterprises shop was fairly quiet. There were only about 15 cars parked in the Petty parking lot Monday morning. Sources have indicated that the team has laid off most of its employees. It is expected that the two teams will merge, with Petty’s famed #43 car joining the GEM stable. With the #43 car guaranteed a spot in the first five races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and GEM’s #10 not guaranteed a position [but could move up with 2-3 others teams dropping out due to the Ganassi-DEI merger and BDR sell], the #43 could be driven by Reed Sorenson, who has already signed to drive for GEM. GEM also could face a lawsuit over its driver stable. Elliott Sadler, who reportedly has been dropped in favor of AJ Allmendinger, has filed a notice with North Carolina Superior Court in Statesville, N.C., that claims that GEM breached its contract with Sadler. GEM spokesman Drew Brown said Monday the company has no comment on the legal filing and that no announcements were planned for today [Monday].(SceneDaily)(1-6-2009)
- Hall of Fame Racing done? UPDATE: hearing from many sources that Hall of Fame Racing, which ran many drivers in the #96 Toyota in 2008, is selling off cars and equipment and most of the work force has been laid off and is not expected to start the season, if run at all.(1-6-2009)
UPDATE: Unless something surprising happens, it appears the Hall of Fame Racing team won’t be competing full-time in the 2009 Cup season, if at all. No one involved on the #96 car has said anything official, but the shop is dormant at the moment. One individual involved in the team said the organization already has sold some of its equipment. The team does not have a manufacturer lined up and hasn’t announced a driver. DLP/Texas Instruments, which was the primary sponsor since the team’s inception in 2006, is only on the car for a few races in 2009. No other sponsors have been announced. The best-case scenario for the team is to sell the number, and whatever sponsorship the #96 has, to a larger Cup team. Team co-owner Jeff Moorad is finalizing a purchase of the San Diego Padres after resigning this week as CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Clearly, the Cup team isn’t his top priority at the moment.
Moorad and Tom Garfinkel bought HOFR in 2007 from original owners and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, who partnered with Bill Saunders to form the team.(ESPN.com)(1-6-2009)
- TLC will air “NASCAR Wives”: TLC is gearing up a new reality show tracking the spouses of NASCAR drivers. The cable network has ordered a docusoap series titled “NASCAR Wives,” starring women with surnames familiar to racing fans. TLC will air an hour of the series as a special Jan. 24 with a lead-in from the network’s most-watched annual event, the Miss America pageant. A full season, including an undisclosed number of episodes, will follow in the spring. The concept mixes racing with the “wives genre” peppering cable primetime, from Lifetime’s drama “Army Wives” to Bravo’s reality show “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Participants include DeLana Harvick (wife of Kevin, who has 11 career Sprint Cup Series wins), Shana Mayfield (wife of Jeremy, a 15-year Sprint Cup veteran), Kelley Earnhardt (sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. [and wife of #82 Red Bull Racing crew chief Jimmy Elledge]) and Angie Skinner (wife of Mike, who competes in NASCAR’s top three national series [mainly the Truck Series]). The series is produced by NASCAR Media Group for TLC.(Hollywood Reporter)(1-6-2009)
News from January 5, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 3: Spanish driver and former world rally champion Carlos Sainz won Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally on Monday and now holds the overall lead by 5 minutes, 45 seconds over South African Giniel De Villiers. The third stage was 551 kilometers, from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci. Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon finished 10th and moved up to ninth overall, 34 minutes, 32 seconds behind. Sainz, just as on Sunday, bested De Villiers on Monday by 3 minutes, 26 seconds. Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel finished third, 4 minutes, 56 seconds behind. Stage 4 on Tuesday will be from Jacobacci to Neuquen, a distance of 459 kilometers. The 2009 Dakar Rally was switched this year from Africa to Argentina and Chile because of security fears. It features 540 competitors from 50 countries and covers 9,000 kilometres over 13 stages — three in Chile and 10 in Argentina — with the finish scheduled for Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires.(NASCAR.com)(1-5-2009)
- Bodine, Lucas wins Bobsled Challenge: Boris Said is no longer king of the mountain. Todd Bodine and Morgan Lucas have taken his place. Bodine laid down a fast first run, then held on to edge Joe Gibbs Racing phenom Joey Logano on Sunday and capture the first race at the fourth annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge. Lucas beat Bodine in the spectacular second race. Said, who had won all but one of the first six races since the unique event’s inception, finished sixth in the first race and was eliminated in the second.
Geoff Bodine started the Bobsled Challenge in an effort to raise funds for the U.S. men’s and women’s bobsled teams. It features NASCAR and NHRA drivers piloting specially made bobsleds, with members of the New York State Army National Guard serving as brakemen. Todd Bodine, with brakeman Patrick Furman, of nearby Plattsburgh, N.Y., was the only driver to break 50 seconds on both runs of the first race down the difficult Mount Van Hoevenberg track. That left his older brother scratching his head. Bodine and Furman finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 39.18 seconds to beat Logano by 0.40 seconds. Still, Logano again proved he’s a quick study. He struggled in his inaugural appearance a year ago. NASCAR Nationwide driver Larry Gunselman’s second run was the fastest of the race but left him in third, just 0.02 behind Loga# Lucas, who competes in NHRA’s top fuel class, was fourth, followed by Funny Car driver Jeg Coughlin Jr., road racers Said and Eric Curran, and NASCAR Whelen series star Brian Loftin. The bottom four sleds were eliminated after the first run, which left ASA driver Danny Bagwell, top fuel drivers JR Todd and Bob Vandergriff, and Whelen racing series champion Philip Morris watching. The second race was an elimination contest featuring four drivers from NHRA and four from NASCAR. Lucas edged Todd to earn the NHRA berth in the final run against Bodine, who remained the class of the field in eliminating Geoff Bodine, Said, and Loga# For the finale, U.S. coaches Brian Shimer and Bill Tavares acted as brakemen because Lucas and Todd Bodine were piloting Bo-Dyn bobsleds used by the U.S. team. And that provided a dramatic finish.
Lucas and Tavares went first, and the speeds increased substantially in the sleeker sleds. Lucas finished nearly 2 seconds faster than in any of his previous runs, and he was lucky to finish. He nearly flipped in one of the final turns before steering hard to prevent it as Tavares’ head whipped sideways, scraping the ice-covered wall. Not to be outdone, Todd Bodine continued his mastery of the tricky layout, posting even faster splits than Lucas as he rocketed toward the bottom. But after building a lead of a quarter second, Bodine wasn’t as lucky entering the same turn that had nearly derailed Lucas — his shiny red sled flipped to give Lucas the triumph.(ESPN/AP)(1-5-2009)
INFO: More info and links on my Racing Charity page and On Going Racing Charity News page.(1-3/5-2009)
- Montoya to run Daytona 24 for Ganassi: Defending Grand-Am Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today a two-car effort for the Rolex Sports Car Series’ 47th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring six drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will unite to form the driver lineup in the #01 TELMEX/Target Daytona Prototype, while Team Target IndyCar pilots Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti join Alex Lloyd in the #02 Target/TELMEX Daytona Prototype. Last year, the team became the first in history to win three consecutive overall titles in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The CGRFS roster will look to add to the record book this year with an impressive group of international racing champions representing three Indianapolis 500 titles (Montoya-2000, Franchitti-2007 and Dixon-2008), five open wheel championships (Montoya-1999, Dixon-2003/2008, Lloyd-2007 and Franchitti-2007), three Daytona Prototype championships (Pruett-2004/2006 and Pruett/Rojas-2007) and five former Rolex 24 winners.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(1-5-2009)
- Mears to run Rolex 24 for Childress team: The driver lineup for the Childress-Howard Motorsports entry in the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona has earned victories in the Rolex 24, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Sprint Cup Series and the IndyCar Series. The talented driver quartet for the #2 CHM Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype is headed by three-time Rolex 24 overall winner Andy Wallace (1990, ’97, ’99). Sprint Cup Series driver and 2006 Rolex 24 overall winner #07-Casey Mears, IndyCar Series star and 2006 Rolex 24 competitor Danica Patrick and veteran sports car racer Rob Finlay will all see significant time behind the wheel. Only five drivers have won more Rolex 24 overall titles than the three earned by Wallace. His trophy case also includes trophies from the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1988), the 12 Hours of Sebring (1992, ’93) and the Petit Le Mans (1999). Mears was a co-driver for the winning team that earned the overall victory in the 2006 Rolex 24, becoming the first full-time Sprint Cup Series driver to do so. He was named in August 2008 as the driver of Richard Childress Racing’s #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet team for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season.(Childress-Howard Motorsports PR)(1-5-2009)
News from January 4, 2009
- Robby Gordon – Dakar Rally – Stage 2: Robby Gordon finished 10th in Sunday’s second stage at the Dakar Rally in Argentina to move up to 10th overall. Gordon completed the Santa Rosa de la Pampa-to-Puerto Madryn stage in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 38 seconds. He is 21:32 behind leader Carlos Sainz of Spain. The third of 15 stages is slated for Monday, from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci, a 551-kilimoter race.(SceneDaily)(1-4-2009)
- ‘Smoke’ Rises from Fiesta Bowl Parade: No passing. That was the only rule Tony Stewart had to abide by in Saturday’s 38th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Thankfully, the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion sat far enough away from the steering wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette that he couldn’t break the one rule just days into the New Year. Instead, the driver better known as “Smoke” sat atop the trunk of the Corvette convertible waving to the crowd along the 1.9-mile parade route, dutifully fulfilling one of his primary duties as grand marshal of this year’s Fiesta Bowl, which features a Monday night match-up between the Big Ten’s Ohio State and the Big 12’s University of Texas.
“That was like driver introductions at Indianapolis times 10,” said Stewart, referring to the ritual of riding in the back of a pickup truck around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway before racing 42 other drivers for 400 miles. “This is a huge event and I’m just honored to be a part of it. It’s pretty cool to sort of venture outside our box a little bit and take in a game of this magnitude. With the racing season being what it is, getting away to see a college football game is kind of tough. When the Fiesta Bowl Committee called and asked if I was interested in being their grand marshal, I said, ‘As long as I get a ticket and a field pass to the game, I’m in.”
Stewart got that and then some. Announcing his presence in the parade were two brightly painted red #14 Chevrolet Impalas. One was emblazoned with Office Depot and the other with Old Spice, his co-primary sponsors for the 2009 racing season – Stewart’s first as a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing, his new home after spending over a decade with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Being grand marshal was also a great opportunity for our race team,” said Stewart, who is already an accomplished team owner in the U.S. Auto Club (USAC) and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, where his teams have won nine championships – seven in USAC and two in the World of Outlaws. “It’s not everyday that we’re able to crossover into other sporting events, so to be able to do that and bring my team and sponsors a little extra exposure was a no-brainer. Plus, we’re going to be back out here in April at Phoenix International Raceway, and hopefully the time we spend here in January brings a few more people out to the race track in April.”(SHR PR)(1-4-2009)
- Team Dakar USA and Gordon stage 1: Hundreds of thousands of people overwhelmed the capital of Argentina on Friday to see the vehicles competing in the first Dakar Rally in South America. Rally organizers expected 500,000 to cram the parade route past the Obelisk in Plaza de Republica and along Avenida 9 de Julio, said to be the world’s widest avenue. The vehicles headed to a park in Palermo, where the rally will officially begin Saturday with a 456-mile stage south to Santa Rosa in the Pampas. The 30th Dakar Rally — and the first outside Africa — features 177 cars, 217 motorcycles, 81 trucks and 25 quad bikes with drivers from 49 countries. After 14 stages and 5,950 miles, it will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires. Sprint Cup Series driver #7-Robby Gordon finished 17th in Saturday’s opening stage. Driving the Team Dakar USA Hummer, Gordon completed the opening stage in 2 hours, 50 minutes and 40 seconds. He is 14 minutes, 25 seconds behind the leader, Nasseer al-Attiyah. Carlos Sainz is second, 2 minutes, 17 seconds behind. Sainz was followed within two minutes by Volkswagen teammates Giniel de Villiers of South Africa and Mark Miller of the United States. BMW’s Guerlain Chicherit was fastest through the third checkpoint but rolled his car onto its roof after 172 miles and it was uncertain if he would continue. Hiroshi Masuoka, a two-time Dakar winner, had engine problems in his Mitsubish. He was towed to the finish and nearly eight hours off the pace. Sunday’s second stage continues south for 147 miles to Puerto Madryn on the coast. After crossing the Pampas, the rally heads into Patagonia, arrives at the Andes next Thursday, drives into Chile the following day, cruises alongside the Pacific for five days — including a loop in the Atacama Desert — and then heads back to the start.(NASCAR.com/AP)(1-4-2009)
- Sponsor for Cope? hearing that the #75 Cope/Keller team with Derrike Cope driving is on the verge of signing one of three major/primary sponsorships within the next week. Plans are to run a lmimited Cup scheule and run one or tow Truck Series teams. The team has purchased some Dodges from Ganassi Racing, which is now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and will run Chevy’s in 2009.(1-4-2009)
- Images: added more 2009 schemes including #17 DeWalt Ford, #55 NAPA Toyota and #29 Pennzoil/Shell Chevy to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.
- Tucson Raceway Park in trouble: The operator of Tucson Raceway Park has pulled out of his agreement with the Southwestern Fair Commission, putting in doubt the future of stock-car racing at the 3/8-mile track southeast of Tucson. The fair commission and the leaseholder, Deery Sports West, are looking for a new operator and said they are optimistic they can find someone before the season starts in March. They said a number of groups have expressed interest in running the track, but they were not ready to name names and no deal is imminent. The track, which is owned by Pima County and leased along with the Pima County Fairgrounds to the Southwestern Fair Commission, is the only paved short track in Arizona. The fair commission leases the track to Deery Sports West, which ran the track for several years before subleasing it yet again to Innovative Racing LLC 2 1/2 years ago. It is Innovative Racing that has pulled out of the agreement, saying it can no longer operate the track. Deery Sports remains the primary leaseholder, but the family that runs it now is based in Illinois, running tracks there. Southwest Fair Commission Executive Director Jon Baker said Deery needs to either run the track or find someone to run it. “We do not intend to shut it down,” Baker said.(Arizona Star)(1-4-2009)
News from January 3, 2009
- Sad News – Sam McQuagg: Sam McQuagg, the 1965 rookie of the year in what was then NASCAR’s Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup), died Saturday morning. He was 73. McQuagg competed in 62 races in NASCAR’s top series, getting a victory in the 1966 Firecracker 400 at Daytona in a Dodge owned by Ray Nichels. McQuagg worked as a commercial pilot after retiring as a racer. He was a member of the Jacksonville Speedway and the Georgia Automobile Racing halls of fame.(Charlotte Observer)
MORE: He is survived by his wife, Joy Baggett McQuagg, and three children, Sam McQuagg Jr., Mark McQuagg and Rita Renfroe, all of Columbus, GA. Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. ET at McMullen Mortuary [3874 Gentian Blvd., Columbus, Ga 31907 706-569-8015]. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at McMullen.(NASCAR.com) In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Central Assembly of God Church [1219 15th St., Columbus, Ga 31901] or your favorite charity.(1-3-2009)
- Bodine Challenge starts UPDATE Bodine fastest: The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, is an effort to raise funds to keep the U.S. men’s and women’s bobsled teams at the forefront of international racing. It will again feature NASCAR and NHRA drivers piloting specially made bobsleds down the Mount Van Hoevenberg track outside Lake Placid. Members of the New York State Army National Guard will serve as brakemen, and the U.S. Bobsled National Championships, a four-heat competition over two days, will be held in conjunction with the Bobsled Challenge. This year’s Bodine field includes: road racer Boris Said; Joe Gibbs Racing phenom Joey Logano; NASCAR Whelen racing series champions Philip Morris, Brian Loftin, and Ted Christopher; Daytona Rolex pole winner Eric Curran; 19-year-old sprint car driver Tom Tolbert; NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr.; and top fuel drivers Morgan Lucas, JR Todd, and Bob Vandergriff. Said, whose late father drove in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics for the U.S. bobsled team and was one of the sport’s great promoters in his heyday, has dominated the Bobsled Challenge with five wins in six races since its inception. In Race 1 on Saturday, all drivers will compete against the clock in two runs down the track. Race 2 on Sunday will feature head-to-head matchups between the NASCAR and NHRA drivers, with the winner from each division squaring off in a final heat for bragging rights.
QUALIFYING: Camping World Truck Series veteran Todd Bodine put his experience in a bobsled to good use Saturday evening when he turned in the fastest time in qualifying for the Fourth Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at the Olympic Sports Complex. As one of two drivers that competed in each of the previous three Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenges, Todd Bodine, younger brother of the challenge’s namesake, recorded afternoon practice runs of 52.14 and 52.26 seconds. As the last driver up in the qualifying round, the younger Bodine turned in a 52.20 in time trials to just edge Larry Gunselman at the top of the board by .01 seconds. Gunselman, who made 17 starts in the Nationwide Series in 2008, posted the two fastest afternoon practice times (51.81/51.85), but his qualifying run of 52.21 was bested only by Todd Bodine. Morgan Lucas, a NHRA Top Fuel driver, was third-fastest in Saturday’s qualifying at 52.40 seconds. Also representing NASCAR in the event is five-time Bodine Bobsled Challenge winner and part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Boris Said, 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Joey Logano, 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Champion Philip Morris and 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion Brian Loftin. Also participating this weekend is road racing specialist Eric Curran and Danny Bagwell from the ISCARS Dash Touring Series along with NHRA racers Jeg Coughlin, J.R. Todd and Bob Vandergriff. The brakemen for each of the drivers are New York State National Guardsmen. Even host Geoff Bodine, a former Sprint Cup Series driver and founder of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, participated in the practice session but did not have a run in time trials. He will compete only in the head-to-head portion of Sunday’s finals. SPEED channel is set to televise four hours of the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge on Jan. 18 at noon and Jan. 25 at 2 pm. MRN Radio is also providing live coverage of the Bodine Bobsled Challenge all three days.(NASCAR PR)
INFO: More info and links on my Racing Charity page and On Going Racing Charity News page.(1-3-2009) Comment here
- Texas World Speedway’s Oval Update: Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas is pleased to announce that the initial phase of repair to its historical Super Oval is near completion and is expected to be completed in 7-10 days. This phase is designed to get the Oval in “test ready” condition through a combination of grinding, asphalt rejuvenation and general maintenance. TWS is now accepting rental bookings for its Super Oval and Grand Prix tracks. For more information about Texas World Speedway, see contact info at www.texasworldspeedway.com.(TWS PR)(1-3-2009) Comment here
- HOF Racing owner re-signs from MLB job: #96 Hall of Famme Racing co-owner Jeff Moorad has resigned as Arizona Diamondbacks chief executive officer and says he has reached an agreement in principle to buy the San Diego Padres. Moorad said Friday he heads a “small but significant” group of investors that has an exclusive right to complete the specifics of negotiations with Padres owner John Moores. Moorad said he hopes the transaction can be completed in the next three months.(ESPN.com), no word how or if this will effect the running of the #96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota team. Rumors have the team laying off most of the employees, losing support from Joe Gibbs Racing and having only partial sponsorhip for the 2009 season.(1-3-2009) Comment here
- Team Dakar USA clears scrutineering: After months of preparation for what many consider to be the toughest motorsports event on earth, Team Dakar USA completes scrutineering. Scrutineering consists of several hours of activities that include document processing, a GPS instruction class, photos, Iritrack and Tripy installation, and vehicle technical inspection. Both the Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer and Vanguard Hummer have drawn crowds everywhere they go. They have quickly become a fan favorite in Buenos Aires. “I’m very excited to be here,” said Robby Gordon. “The response to the Hummers has been incredible. Everyone on the team has worked hard to get all the vehicles ready and we feel we are very well prepared. To conclude preparations, Team Dakar USA is going through all of the support vehicles to make sure the final details are met. All spare parts, tires, tools and other equipment need to be accounted for. The assistance vehicles and equipment are a vital component in the Rally. Driver of the Vanguard Hummer, Eric Vigouroux is also thrilled to take part of this historic race. “It is a great opportunity for me and my co driver, Alex to take part in this edition of the Dakar Rally with a professional team like Team Dakar USA,” stated Vigouroux. The first of 15 stages starts tomorrow Saturday the 3rd in Buenos Aires and travels to Santa Rosa de la Pampa. The stage consists of a total of 733 rolling km and the special has a total of 371km of racing. The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on RobbyGordon.com and dakar.com and a TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page..(1-3-2009) Comment here
- Sad News – John Rebhan: Former Cup car owner, John Rebhan, passed away on December 30th. Rebhan owned Warren Fabricating in Warren, Ohio. Rebhan owned the #77 car fielded in 11 races over 3 seasons [1979-1981] by John Anderson, Kenny Hemphill and Donnie Allison with Allison having the best finish of 5th at Talladega in May 1981. see a story about Rebhan at the Tribune Chronicle;
SERVICES: At the family’s request, calling hours and services are private. Entombment will take place at Crown Hill Burial Park. Material contributions may be made to the donor’s favorite charity. Arrangements are entrusted to McFarland & Son Funeral Services Co., 271 N. Park Ave., Warren 44481. Please visit mcfarlandfuneral.com to view this obituary and send condolences.(Tribune Chronicle)(1-3-2009)
- Former ISC employees avoid prision time: Former International Speedway Corp. employees William Kilgannon and Todd Polakoff have avoided prison time for their roles in an extortion conspiracy in association with the failed attempt to put a race track on New York’s Staten Island. Polakoff was sentenced to three years probation, while Kilgannon got two years of supervised release, according to court documents. They were sentenced Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in New York. Polakoff and Kilgannon were among 62 people indicted in February as part of a wide-ranging, 80-count federal indictment that targeted alleged Mafia members, including three high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family. Kilgannon and Polakoff were former employees of ISC subsidiary North American Testing Co., which handles design and construction for ISC.(see full story at SceneDaily)(1-3-2009) Comment here
- AMS Labor Day Tix on sale Monday: Due to requests for Labor Day NASCAR race weekend tickets, the general on-sale date for Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Labor Day weekend Sprint Cup Series race has been moved up to Jan. 5. Those eager to secure the best seats for the first-ever Sprint Cup night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway can purchase their tickets beginning at 9 a.m. on Jan. 5 by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office, by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com, or by using a authorized Ticketmaster retailer, including www.ticketmaster.com. The Labor Day NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway will feature a Nationwide Series race and Hot Shot Sprint Cup Qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 5 and the Sprint Cup Series race under the lights on Sunday, Sept. 6. For the first-time ever, Atlanta Motor Speedway is offering fans a payment plan to purchase tickets. Race fans can reserve their Labor Day weekend Sprint Cup race ticket for just $20. They will then pay half of the purchase balance by April 5, with the remaining balance due on June 5.(AMS PR)(1-3-2009)
News from January 2, 2009
- Sadler to claim GEM breached their contract: An attorney representing Elliott Sadler has filed notice in Iredell County (N.C.) court saying the NASCAR driver intends to claim that Gillett Evernham Motorsports has breached Sadler’s contract to drive the Sprint Cup team’s #19 Dodges. John Buric, Sadler’s lawyer, filed an “application and order extending time to file complaint” Wednesday in Iredell County Superior Court. Sadler has until Jan. 20 to file an actual complaint if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their dispute. According to the form, Sadler plans to seek “injunctive relief, declaratory relief/specific performance, consequential and punitive damages as a result of Defendants anticipatory and actual breach of Plaintiffs’ Driving Services Agreement. … Plaintiffs also seek general, consequential, treble and punitive damages, and attorney fees, as a result of Defendants’ tortuous interference …” George Gillett, Gillette Evernham Motorsports, Anthony James Allmendinger and Ray Evernham Enterprises are named as defendants.
Buric said Sadler learned on Tuesday that GEM had engaged in negotiations with Allmendinger about driving the #19 Dodges in 2009. Buric said there had been “communication” with Sadler earlier, telling him that a change was being considered. But he said Sadler did not know there had been actual negotiations until he received phone calls about media reports that Allmendinger was being lined up to replace him. “Elliott is ready, willing and able to fulfill his contractual obligations,” Buric said. Sadler earlier this year signed an extension of his contract with GEM that runs through 2010. “Gillett Evernham Motorsports policy does not allow us to comment on potential or pending legal matters involving the race team,” said Ryan Barry, a spokesman for the organization.(Charlotte Observer/David Poole)(1-2-2009) Comment here
- Robby and Team Dakar news: Team Dakar USA and Sprint Cup driver [#7 Jim Beam/Menards Toyota] Robby Gordon are in Buenos Aires Argentina to challenge the world’s most demanding sixteen day off-road race. Team Dakar USA’s objectives are to win the rally, highlight American innovation, determination and pride. The 2009 Dakar Rally covers over 6,000 miles (10000km) of punishing off road terrain. In preparation for the rally, Gordon’s crew spent countless hours prepping the two Hummer H3 race vehicles and support vehicles. Team Dakar USA’s support vehicles consist of a Mercedes Benz 6X6, Mercedes 4X4, MAN 4X4 race truck and two Hummer H1’s. One Hummer will act as an assistance vehicle while a second Hummer H1 will focus in media relations. A third race vehicle will enter in the truck class to aid Gordon and Vigoroux in case of any assistance needed. The MAN race truck is driven by “Turbo” Tom Gevis, it has the vitals to repair the vehicles on the course. The ASO does not allow vehicle assistance during special stages unless that vehicle is entered in the rally. Team Dakar USA has twenty four dedicated individuals that form the roster. Most of the team members are familiar faces in off-road motorsports. They have endured years of racing experience in Dakar, Baja, and Central Europe. In the Dakar Rally that can be the determining factor between winning or even finishing a rally like this. An exciting addition to the 2009 Team is driver Eric Vigoroux and his co pilot Alexandre Winocq. “We are excited to have Eric and Alex on our team, Eric is fast and has finished Dakar Rally’s before. His experience will be an added asset to our team, ”said Gordon.
Gordon, will make his fifth appearance in the Dakar Rally in 2009. A three-time Dakar stage winner, two time Central Europe Rally Special winner is the only American to do so. Gordon has been competing in off-road endurance races since the early 1980’s. Himself a three-time winner of the esteemed Baja 1000 along with numerous other victories within North American borders, Gordon is attempting to be the first American to win the overall victory of the coveted Dakar Rally. The 2009 Dakar Rally, which takes place between the 3rd and 18th of January, is scheduled to be broadcast in 189 countries. Versus will carry the TV coverage for the USA. A TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page. Fans can access news, background reports, photographs, and videos before the start and during the Dakar Rally on www.RobbyGordon.com.(RGM PRs)(1-2-2009)
- Barnes Wins the Polar Bear 150 at the Rock: Chuck Barnes, Sr., who started from the R.A. Jeffrey’s Distributing Company pole, took advantage of blown engine in Brett Hudson’s Chevy Monte Carlo with ten laps to go to take the checkered flag in the inaugural Polar Bear 150 at the Rockingham Speedway Thursday afternoon. Clinton, Indiana’s Anthony White, the NASCAR Technical Institute’s Hard Charger of the race award winner, finished second in his first start on a paved track. Rounding out the top-five were Clint Watkins of Maggie Valley, NC and Bonaire, Georgia’s Tim Jensen and Tony Conway of Louisville, KY. J.D. Frey, a mechanic for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s Sprint Cup team, whose entry was owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., ran with the leaders most of the day, only to be caught up in a late-race accident.(Rockingham Speedway PR)(1-2-2009)
- Images: added #98 Menards Ford, #88 AMP Chevy, #88 Nationa Guard Chevy and #26 Crown Royal Ford to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.
- New ride for Petty? UPDATE denied: hearing that after the Daytona 500 with James Hylton, the #08 EM Motorsports team will run Kyle Petty in up to 14 races with sponsorship from Wells Fargo and others TBA.(1-2-2009)
UPDATE: been told that this is not true and nothing is signed.(1-2-2008) Comment here
News from January 1, 2009
- SMI Completes Kentucky Speedway Purchase: Speedway Motorsports, Inc.(SMI) has added Kentucky Speedway to its portfolio of motorsports facilities, expanding its geographic reach into the Midwest. The completed purchase was announced Wednesday by O. Bruton Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “We are extremely excited about the new opportunities this market is going to bring the company,” said Smith. “Since we announced this acquisition in May, we have been overwhelmed with the response of fans expressing their support and desire for a Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Speedway. We will continue to work with NASCAR to bring a Sprint Cup race to this fine facility as soon as possible. We are going to do everything we can to bring the great people of Kentucky what they want and deserve.” Located on approximately 820 acres in Sparta, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, Kentucky Speedway features a 1.5-mile tri-oval speedway, with grandstand seating for approximately 66,000 spectators, 50 luxury suites with seats for approximately 2,000, private RV spaces, and reserved and unreserved camping spaces. The speedway currently plays host to a NASCAR Nationwide Series race, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, two ARCA RE/MAX Series races and an IndyCar Series race. Tickets for Kentucky Speedway’s 2009 season can be reserved by calling (859) 578-2300.(Kentucky Speedway)(1-1-2009)
- Mike Wallace has ride for Daytona 500: Mike Wallace says he’s secured a ride in a “competitive car” for the season-opening Daytona 500, providing he can get through the arduous Daytona qualifying process. But beyond Daytona, Wallace said this week he just doesn’t know what’s going to happen. “We’re still talking to people, and they’re still interested in possibly doing something,” Wallace said. “The only thing that I’m thinking is that I wish it was, like, three months ago — because the way they’re thinking and the way I’m thinking, knowing how close the beginning of the season is, causes me a little bit of concern.” But at this moment, like a lot of other guys and women, if you count drivers like his younger daughter Chrissy, who had meetings planned this week with team owner Bob Germain to determine what the suddenly sponsor-strapped Germain Racing team might be able to do to race with her this season, Wallace just doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing beyond Speedweeks — though he’d consider racing any of NASCAR three national tours.(in part from NASCAR.com)(1-1-2009) Comment here
- #22 team looking for sponsors: California businessman Mike Held recently bought out Bill Davis Racing, which has been in NASCAR since 1988. Its flagship car — the #22 that won the Daytona 500 in 2002 with Ward Burton behind the wheel — doesn’t yet have sponsorship in place for the upcoming season. “It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” Held said. “If you think we’re sitting here with something in our back pocket that we’re just not ready to announce yet, I can assure you that’s not the case. … We’ll keep trying and we’ll keep looking, and we know it’s not going to be easy.” He and BDR Vice President Marty Gaunt have “made the decision, having owned our own teams before, the one thing we both made a pact to do was we would not attempt to do something that is short of funding — it always ends in disaster,” he added. “If we come out onto the track (in 2009 with a Cup team) it’s because it makes good business sense and nothing more.”(Rocky Mount Telegram)(1-1-2009) Comment here
- Race Scan closes: Bluff City [TN] Mayor Todd Malone is one of 15,693 people who have filed for bankruptcy this year in the Eastern District of Tennessee, a number that is 28% higher than in the previous year. Attributing his difficulties to a souring economy, Malone and his business, Race Scan Communications, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 18. He and his company, which Malone shuttered Oct. 22, are seeking Chapter 7 protection, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In his petition, Malone reports having $118,870 in non-exempt assets, about half of which is Race Scan’s store inventory, and $616,000 worth of unsecured debts. Malone took over Race Scan’s operations in July 2003. The business is best known for supplying NASCAR fans with radio equipment tuned to the frequencies [scanners] used by drivers at the Bristol Motor Speedway. But more recently, Malone said, most of the work involved installing sirens and radios in police cars and ambulances. Malone said he started having cash-flow problems about February or March when high gas prices forced people to curtail their purchases at the race track, especially the headsets he sold through his store. Those high prices and other cost increases also forced local governments to tighten their belts, Malone said, which meant they bought fewer new vehicles that needed sirens and radios. After suffering losses on both fronts, Malone said, he was forced to shut his business down.(Bristol Herald Courier)(1-1-2009) Comment here
- Evernham still wants a role in NASCAR: Ray Evernham called “The Morning Drive” on Sirius NASCAR Radio this past week after his name came up Monday [12-29] while we [Mike Bagley & David Poole] were talking about the reports that Elliott Sadler will be replaced by AJ Allmendinger in the #19 Dodges next season at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Evernham no longer has a major day-to-day role in the team he ran after leaving Hendrick Motorsports as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief to help Dodge come back to big-time NASCAR competition. He sold most of his interest into the team to George Gillett and his family and has scaled back more and more over the past couple of years. Evernham wanted to make sure it was clear that he’s not down on NASCAR or racing. Evernham wants to be involved in racing. But as a team owner, he discovered that was a job he wasn’t going to be able to do at a level he could feel good about. Evernham doesn’t have a “good enough” switch. You’re talking about a guy whose work as [Jeff] Gordon’s crew chief help redefined the way Cup teams compete. Evernham and his “Rainbow Warriors” changed the game, helping bring specialization and a level of attention to detail the sport had never seen before. By the time they were done, Evernham and Gordon had three championships together and Evernham had established himself as one of the sport’s greatest all-time crew chiefs. Evernham said Tuesday that “it will probably always haunt me” that he didn’t win a championship as a team owner, but he’s proud of what he helped build at GEM. He’s not sure he agrees with everything that’s being done there now, but he also said that it’s no longer his call. As for the situation with Sadler and Allmendinger, there wasn’t much he could say. That’s pretty much what has been going on with that story since it first surfaced over the weekend. Sadler signed a contract extension in May and my [Poole] hunch is that as lots of people wearing suits and carrying briefcases are discussing all of that everybody involved has been told to remain quiet until everybody’s as happy as they’re going to be.
If I wanted to hype something Evernham said, I could use this quote: “When I left as a crew chief I said the only way I would come back in that job is to be Jeff Gordon’s crew chief again.” But that’s not Evernham angling for Steve Letarte’s job. It just means that Evernham isn’t going to be a crew chief again just for the sake of having that title. For right now, Evernham is working on getting East Lincoln Speedway — the short track he recently bought — ready for a new season. He even got denim overalls, which is apparently the official working uniform of that track, for the job. See full story at Charlotte Observer.(1-1-2009)
- Allmendinger to run Rolex 24: For the fourth consecutive year, Michael Shank Racing has signed AJ Allmendinger to be a part of the Columbus, Ohio-based team’s assault on the biggest jewel in North American endurance racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team has two entries in the top Daytona Prototype class. The Rolex 24 event also has a GT class field as well, making the 24 hour race something akin to running a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the same time, on the same track, as a Nationwide race. Allmendinger sat on the outside pole for the race last year, and very nearly won the race in his first run with Michael Shank Racing in 2006, coming up just under three miles short after 24 hours of hard running to take second overall with Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, and Justin Wilson. “I really like Mike Shank and working with his whole team is always a great experience,” said AJ, who would score a custom-built Rolex watch for a victory. “This is just one of those races that you want to have on your resume. There are so many guys who come out for this from so many parts of the sport, its a great event that just keeps getting bigger. Hopefully we can go all the way and end up on top.”(ajallmendinger.com)(1-1-2009)
- Elliott’s brother named GM of speedway: Peachstate Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia was renamed Gresham Motorsports Park. Racetrack owners Jim Gresham, Dan Elliott of the famous Elliott family of Dawsonville, Georgia, has been named the General Manager of Gresham Motorsports Park. “We plan to do an Extreme Makeover Race Track Edition” Elliott said in a brief interview. He has been in racing almost all of his life, from short tracks to NASCAR, and he plans to use every resource available to make this the best racetrack in the country. “This track once hosted some of the most famous drivers that ever raced and if anyone can do that again I want to be the man to do it and I want this to be the track where new talent is discovered. I am excited and proud to be a part of the new Gresham Motorsports Park and highly praise the Greshams and Gene Roberts for this awesome opportunity.” For further information see www.greshammotorsportspark.com.(Gresham Motorsports Park)(1-1-2009)