Saturday, January 31, 2009

Truck Series Rules Changes Announced

NASCAR has made some interesting changes to the Camping World Truck series for 2009. Instead of beating around the bush, let's get right to the meat of the issue!

The race day performance impacting rules are:
  • Teams will be limited to only five men over the wall.
  • Pit crews will not be able to change tires and gas up during the same pit stop.

This post continued over at my new place, NASCAR Bits and Pieces, The New 2009 NASCAR Truck Series Rules

Dover To Sell Memphis, But to Guess Who?

Dover Motorsports Inc is selling Memphis Motorsports Park. No 2009 race schedules are anticipated to be changed and the closing date of the $10 million sale is anticipated to be around April 30th, 2009.

The company purchasing the track is Gulf Coast Entertainment, L.L.C..

Gulf Coast is owned by an investment group. Members of the investment group include some race industry insiders, if you wanna call them that: Kelley, Kerry and Dale Earnhardt Jr..

As Earnhardt Jr. expands his impressive business portfolio*, I anticipate that the track won't be relegated to a test location, but will probably remain active in the series.

*Earnhardt owns an impressive number of companies, getting his affairs in order for whenever he decides to retire, he's got it sweet.
  • Glacial Bear Racing,
  • DEJ Realty,
  • Hammerhead Entertainment,
  • Whisky River bar,
Details about his new bar (April of '08) are here & his different companies (Reported in March of '08) here & Alabama Motorsports track back in January of '08.

People, keep up with me, I'll try to keep you informed with what inside info I can dig up!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nationwide Series Driver: Alex Garcia

ALEX GARCIA is the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver of the No. 98 Transnet Racing Chevrolet.

The team has been a part time team in '07 and '08. He thought they had a full time sponsor this year, but things are up in the air right now. He's hoping to debut at California though if they skip Daytona.

we should be able to debut. So I'm looking at the possibility of skipping Daytona and starting with California on. And we'll see how it goes. But that's where I'm at. It's just been interesting, a little bit of up and down. I was very excited about the opportunity to go full time, and now it's a little bit up in the air.

But we're hoping that it'll come together for us.

Even a sponsor that has been with him for six years is having a tough time committing to what they agreed to initially, and it's understandable.

Getting creative to stay in a car, he has an opportunity to do the road courses in the Cup Series.

Despite the issues abound, he's got a great attitude as he looks at any opportunity to go full time, regardless of the series. A real racers heart if you ask me.

His team will be similar to what he's had in the past. Despite his opportunistic eye, his focus is on the Nationwide series if that is what in the cards for him in '09.

Good luck Alex.

Image: Getty Images for NASCAR

Nationwide Driver: John Wes Townley

In a recent interview, John Wes Townley, a Nationwide driver who will be competing for Rookie of the Year this year.

He'll be competing in the ARCA Race at Daytona, being that he's currently not approved to drive in the Nationwide Series Race at Daytona but he will be starting his season at California.

Some inside info is that he just went through some LASIK surgery and is recouping from the process. His outlook on the year is a good one. After the ARCA race, all his other official events will be in the Nationwide series, starting at California.

From moving up in the ranks, he credits the ARCA series for his developing skills that are applicable to NASCAR because they race on a lot of the same tracks NASCAR does. That's valuable track time.

He realizes this year will be a big learning curve. The process will involve keeping the car out of trouble while he competes for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

In addition to his NASCAR schedule, he'll be running one or two ARCA Races and maybe some late model races.

He thinks they have a fair chance to be competitive for the rookie award. He'll be driving for RAB Racing in the Zaxby's sponsored No. 209 car.

Good luck this year John.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Allmendinger Gets Eight Chances

A.J. Allmendinger will be driving the No. 44 car for Richard Petty Motorsports for the first 8 races of the 2009 season.

He'll also be competing in the July Cup race at Daytona.

Sounds like good news for the 'Dinger fans out there!!!

Did You Know: Some Competition Numbers

• That 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers had at least one top-five finish in 2008.

• That 37 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers had at least one top-10 finish in 2008.

• That NASCAR Sprint Cup races averaged 11 leaders and 21 lead changes in 2008.

• That a series-record 89.6% of the cars were running at the finish in 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

• That 43 NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers had at least one top five in 2008.

• That 49 NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers had at least one top 10 in 2008.

• That 60 NASCAR Nationwide drivers led at least one lap in 2008.

• That 28 NASCAR Camping World Series drivers had at least one top five in 2008.

• That 43 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers had at least one top 10 in 2008.

• That 20 of the 25 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races had a margin of victory under one second in 2008.

• That more than 2,000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series chassis have been inspected at the R&D Center since Nov., 2006

• That the No. 22 Toyota team raced the same car at 11 different NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 2008 – or nearly one third of the schedule

• That the No. 1 Chevrolet team raced the same car at 10 different NSCS events in 2008, as did the No. 29 Chevrolet and No. 21 Ford teams.

source: NASCAR media

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Changes Are Comin', More That Is

OK, change is inevitable.  Take how the Nationwide and Truck series got their own versions of restrictor plates.  When the COT came on board, suddenly, when all three series were at the same track, the Cup Series was the slowest of the bunch due to the modifications to the car.  Can't have the premiere series being the slower of the three, now can we?  Nope.  So in with the restrictor plates on everyone else.

I don't care what they really call them, they are what they are.

With the idea of change in the air, get ready for this one:  NASCAR is looking at other ways to save cost and one of them is some form of elimination of pit stops in the Truck Series.

Right now they only have 15 full time commitments and they're trying to get more teams to jump on board.  One way is to somehow eliminate costs would be to have competition pit stops.  You would not longer have to pay so many guys to pit a truck, and then, the truly best TRUCK would be the contender.

As it is, a driver could have the best equipment, but if Mickey Mouse is your pit crew member, you're coming out close to last!

I've always pondered the idea.  It would make pit road safer, but this won't eliminate the issue during green flag pit stops unless they truly are looking at making this series a bunch of trophy dashes.  Kind of like Indianapolis was last year in the Cup Series.  (Oh that was painful.)

Ron Hornaday like the idea, but then eliminating the harried, team coordinated pit stop might eliminate the entertainment value.  I can see that, indeed.  Then again, without pit stops, would Homestead have had the tension and excitement it could have had last year?

Food for thought, but one this is for sure - There probably will be changes coming down the pipe to help save costs.  What?  We'll just have to wait and see.

source:  scene daily

JEFF BURTON Preseason Thunder Interview

Here's some insider news from one of the many press interviews held at Preseason Thunder at Daytona last week:

Jeff Burton will be driving the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing racing this year.

They're pretty excited about the upcoming year though like everyone else, still holds a bit of reservation with the no testing rule. Despite that, they feel their engine program has improved and they feel good about coming to Daytona, despite the unknowns.

He touched on how though we've been hearing about the proving grounds in relation to questions about the testing ban, it's was interesting to hear that the proving grounds are nothing new to the major players (teams) and that teams are headed to Rockingham and anything else they can do to get some testing under their belts.

And as I've observed and about to mention, he put out there that this is not a literal testing ban, but it's more a testing restriction. So teams will still be testing, but it's just seems so much more apparent due to the lack of track time the fans are used to seeing at Daytona.

Burton also noted how other facilities are looking to update their tracks with the intent of now being usable as a testing area.

The one thing Jeff sees as to what the team needs to improve on is speed. They need to lead more laps and be in the position to win more races.

He added it's not just about throwing money at the car, but it's also in the hands of the driver as "The drivers have a huge play in how fast our cars go, so we have to be willing to look at ourselves and try to find a way to be better, as well."

This in my mind would equate to how aggressive or not one would be hitting the corners, coming out of the corners, the meticulous approach to ones line. They all play a factor. It's been my experience that the less aggressive one is at the front of a fuel run, and you get to run without a yellow interrupting your fuel run, then there is a slight reward at the end of the fuel run as far as how much your tires have fallen off. It's not the most aggressive approach, but it has it's merit. This is just one example I can think of off the top of my head.

On Carl Edwads winning the championship this year: "The question is from a competition standpoint, have other people narrowed the gap, have they become complacent? Carl is going to drive hard and drive very effectively, but this sport is a moving target. You know, it's hard to go into a year and pick a team, but if you had to pick a team, the 99 team would certainly be one of those that you would pick."

Another insightful conversation with Jeff Burton folks.

source: nascar media; photo: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Did You Know?: NASCAR Milestones

• That Jimmie Johnson will attempt to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships (Well, OK, maybe you put that one together already.)

• That for the first time in his 11-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, Tony Stewart will be driving for a different team other than Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart is the new driver/owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and will drive the No.14 Chevrolet in 2009. (Gotta wonder how the temper will fare? Probably OK.)

• That Joey Logano will be the youngest driver ever to run the Daytona 500. He’ll be 18 years, 8 months and 22 days on February 15. The previous youngest was Clark Dwyer in 1983. He was 19 years, 1 month and 8 days old.

• That Jeff Gordon needs to lead 89 laps to reach 20,000 career laps led. (That's a lot of clean air!)

• That Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer look to extend an all-time record this season. Harvick has run 80 consecutive races without a DNF. Clint Bowyer is second with 73. (Ohhh, media curse!)

• That as long as Jeff Gordon makes each of his starts this year, he’ll move into the sixth spot for most consecutive starts. He now has 545. By season’s end, he’ll have 581.

• That with two poles, Ryan Newman will move into the top 10 on the all-time poles list. Newman enters this season with 43 career poles. (I hope he and his new team can do it!)

• That Bill Elliott will make his 800th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start with his fourth start of 2009.

• That Ron Hornaday Jr. needs one win to become the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver with 40 career wins.

• That there have been back-to-back first-time race winners in each of the last four NASCAR Nationwide Series seasons. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano did it last year, winning their first races at Nashville and Kentucky.

• That the Atlanta Motor Speedway event on March 8 will be the track’s 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

• That three tracks will be celebrating their 80th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this season:
Dover, Michigan and Talladega.

source: NASCAR media

Monday, January 26, 2009

CARL EDWARDS Preseason Thunder Interview

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

He was last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup series runner up who will be driving the No. 99 Aflac Ford. He feels that coming into the Daytona 500, they'll pick up right where they left off. Realistically though, no one really knows where they stack up with out any in-depth testing.

LADIES, you may want to sit down for this, but Carl got married over the break. Sorry. On the bright side, he thinks that being married will help ground him and having Kate in his life with that grounding affect will make him a "better race car driver or able to do my job better, focus more."

He was asked to toss out some odds on how everyone stacks up, but like myself, he echoed that it takes up to ten races to see how everyone stacks up over the different tracks.

To be more competitive, some things have to improve, or get changed up. With that in mind, Carl says that one of the ingredients for getting a stronger teams was adding Pierre Kuettel as the car chief on the 99, replacing Jason Myers. Myers hasn't left the team and is applying his own skill sets elsewhere within the No 99 team. Carl thinks it's going to as head mechanic. (Don't quote him though) Carl feels that they are back in the same form the team was in during the 2005 season but with the added talent of Keuttel.

One person he seems worried about this year is Mark Martin. Carl feels that if Martin makes it to the chase, in the equipment he'll be in, "... it's going to be tough. You're going to have to beat Mark Martin to win the championship."

Having come so close to winning the Cup last year, his team is hungry for another shot at it. As he put it, "It's no fun to watch somebody celebrate the championship when you're second, but it was a little easier from victory lane."

Regardless of how well anyone can plan, unknowns still come at that team. As a driver, Carl can plan out how to approach the season, but team wide planning also has to be responsive to so many things throughout the year. It's great to have a plan, but from what he said, it comes down to having a great "plan B", as I put it.

When asked about contending for another Nationwide Series championship and if his rivalry with Kyle Busch will spill over into the Cup side, Carl said, "Yeah, I think it's going to be fun."

He clarified it by defining rivalry as akin to the points battle like Clint and he did at the end of the year. Me, I was thinking more of a fender, paint exchange kind of rivalry!


For me, I think one of the biggest things Carl has to work on is his patience in restrictor plate racing. It was his level of patience that took him out of the contention for the Cup at Talladega. If he truly is more grounded, it might just add one more complex layer of patience to his entire set of driving tactics. If that's true, then Johnson will definitely have his hands full this year trying to take back the Cup.

source: nascar media

ARIC AMIROLA Preseason Thunder Interview

ARIC ALMIROLA enjoys coming to Daytona since he grew up Tampa. Like everyone else, Aric says Daytona holds a special place in his heart and many a Daytona 500s and Firecracker 400.

He's excited about coming back and running the 8 car and he has hopes to "run full time in the 8 car and stuff like that. We're working through all that stuff. It's definitely interesting to say the least." Basically, he's a bit confused on the 8 car and his status for the year, as it's made him a "basket case of emotions" as things are sorted out.

As far as he knows, EGR is looking to run 4 cars in '09, but the finances will be the final determination on that issue.

Aric works out throughout the year, so getting back into driving form isn't a big change of conditioning for him. (Yes, it takes some serious muscle to turn left all day folks. I can personally attest to that!!!!)

Now that the test ban is in place, he is looking at chatting up some buddies and possibly looking at a few nights maybe at New Smyrna during Speedweeks. He says he's always up for getting in a late model, modified, sprint car, whatever it is. If it's got four wheels and engine, count me in.

When Aric was asked if EGR promised him the ride for Daytona, you can tell that he's not totally in the loop in the issue of the car that was to be his ride... His reply was "Yeah. I mean gosh, I don't know. I mean, I think so, yes." and further added to his response that "But as far as I know, yes, I'm going to race in the Daytona 500 in the No. 8 car. Now, whether that changes or not, that's beyond my control."

On an enlightening side, when someone asked him about his status, for the umpteenth time, Aric's response was rather to the point with "You are beating a dead horse."

From his side of things, he says it's been brutal trying to find a sponsor and said that in regards to cost effectiveness and a sponsor putting their logos on cars, that "... sponsors are not , stupid; they know how bad the economic times are, and they know that they're going to be able to buy more for their dollar right now. So they're shopping around."

As it stands, in regards to drivers' salaries, and specifically his in particular Aric said that right now "It's not a time anymore to where you can just say, oh, the hell with it and I'm going to go get a job somewhere else." and quoted that he knows of at least a thousand people in the North Carolina that don't have the NASCAR jobs they are qualified for.

This, to me said a lot. If that's on his mind, my take is maybe he's thought about the short straw he's gotten and pondered the idea of moving teams... it seems he's the king of short straws these last few years, but the economy has pretty much tied him to EGR. At least he has a job for the moment and can probably count on a few rides this year!

source: nascar media,
image: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sprint / NEXTEL News

It's just been reported on my TV that Sprint / NEXTEL is cutting 8,000 jobs.  They noted that they've been struggling ever since they've absorbed NEXTEL.  Subscribers have been bailing for AT&T (Hello Jeff Burton of old!) and falling for the gadget cool iPhone.

At first this makes me nervous for the state of the sport, but if they've laid most of their money upfront, then they're really just along for the ride and their rights monies will keep them in the advertising loop and in our faces during the tenure of their contract.

But if they put up a down payment and then promised to make payments over the x number of years they've got the contract for, then this might be a different story, even if they're legally obligated to maintain their contract.  Did 8,000 people get let go to maintain a NASCAR title sponsorship?  Gads, I hope not.  (Probably not just for NASCAR) but this present market is definitely threatening everyone.

We'll just have to wait and see if they try to modify their contract on our side of the game at this point.

NASCAR The Sport: Did you Know

• That NASCAR is the #1 spectator sport as 17 of 20 highest attended U.S. sporting events in 2008 were NASCAR races.

• That NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events averaged nearly 120,000 fans in 2008.

• That NASCAR remains strong as the #2-rated regular season sport on television.

• That NASCAR is televised weekly in more than 100 countries and in more than 30 languages.

• That more than 400 unique corporate sponsors are involved in NASCAR.

• That NASCAR has the most Fortune 500 involvement in all of professional sports.

• That NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks across more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico.

source: NASCAR media

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Camping World Truck Series Bits and Pieces


The Truck Series: New Look, Same Tough Trucks

After 14 years with Craftsman, 2009 has the new title sponsor in Camping World. It's a shame. We've gotten used to the Sears brand leading the way for the trucks, but now we have RV's holding down the fort!

New Team for Defending Champ

Johnny Benson managed to edge Ron Hornaday Jr. by a mere seven points for the 2008 Truck Series title in the second closest championship battle in series history.

Benson will be defending his title with a new team, as he and crew chief Trip Bruce made an off-season move to Red Horse Racing.

He will also compete to become the series first back-to-back champion in series history but can he do it in a new team? Why the heck did he jump ship in a team that got him to the championship? I firt thought he had it with racing and was looking for something else to do, or was that just noise to help his transition. These team moves just don't happen. They develop over a long period of time. You and I go for a job interview and that's that. Drivers have an intricate series of issues to negotiate. Product, sponsor, image, purse share, salary, diecast etc., etc.. What I'm saying is that I suspect he was working on this move all last or most of last year.

Count On Ron Hornaday For 2009

Three-time series champ Ron Hornaday Jr. will probably be a threat for 2009. I'm sure Hornaday would like to add a fourth title to his resume as he drives the No. 33 Camping World/Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Chevrolet team with crew chief Rick Ren.

I think he'll have a chance, but the on thing I've noticed in him is that he tends to overdrive his equipment. It showed most prominently in the "Nationwide" series when he ran there. Whether he just gets too excited or it's just his go-get-'em nature, it does gel well in the trucks. Yet patience is still key. I think he's got that chance, regardless. The Truck Series suits his style of driving. I used to watch him when he ran at Saugus Speedway. Wha? Where? Small track in So. Cal when he ran that big yellow modified many, many moons ago.

Bodine Looks to Become First Daytona Repeat Winner

Todd Bodine, the 2006 Truck Series champ is hoping to be a repeat winner in Daytona with his No. 30 Germain Racing team at Daytona International Speedway. If he does repeat the win on February 13, he would become the first repeat winner in the series at Daytona.

Do you think he can pull it off? If the last few years are any clue, I think he has a pretty good chance of making this milestone, barring the usual noise that happens with tires or other wayward facing (wrecking) trucks.

Braun Racing For A Golden First

Colin Braun, the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, faces a bit of pressure in 2009. The 20-year-old Roush Fenway Racing sophomore has two goals in his sights -- his first career win and Roush's 50th victory in the series.

No pressure there!
source: NASCAR media

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nationwide Bits And Pieces


Brad Keselowski Primed To Snag A Championship Of His Own

Last year in his first full-time season in the Nationwide series, Brad Keselowski posted his first two wins, first pole, 11 top fives and 20 top-10 finishes and was voted by the fans as the series' Most Popular Driver.

Keselowski ended the season third in the final standings.

Now with Brad in the mix, there will almost certainly be a repeat of the great late-season battle – with a seasoned Keselowski in that mix.

Do you think he can do it?

Do You Think 2009 Will Be The Best Owner Championship Battle Ever?

The series recently has become known for its split championships among drivers and owners and that streak could very well run to three consecutive shared championships in 2009. Over the last two seasons – and three times overall – there have been split titles.

The No. 20 GameStop Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing, the present reigning owner champion, will have drivers Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Coleman representing! Gibbs racing will also have Kyle Busch's No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota in the fray.

While Carl Edwards is determined to "unify" the title for the first time in three years, the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet, (2007 owner champion), is a big favorite. Jeff Burton will join forces with Bowyer and Stephen Leicht to try and bring Richard Childress his second series owner championship.

Now Introducing …

Full-time newcomers in 2009 include a pair of 22-year-olds.

Justin Allgaier moves from ARCA to Penske Racing.

Michael Annett
is helming his first full-time opportunity with Germain Racing.

John Wes Townley
, another ARCA alum who turned 19 on New Year's Eve, announced a full-time schedule with RAB Racing.

Erik Darnell and Brendan Gaughan, move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series from the Camping World Truck Series. Darnell will share the No. 6 Ford with David Ragan while Gaughan will join young veteran Steve Wallace as a teammate with Rusty Wallace Racing.

The series will have a new venue this season when it hits up Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa for the inaugural series event Aug. 1.

source: NASCAR Media

Friday, January 23, 2009

Casey Mears Press Conference At Preseason Thunder

Casey Mears will be driving the No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in 2009.

With a new team and new situation, here's hoping he can kick in gear and make it work! Considering how well the team performed, he's got mildly big shoes to fill.

Like everyone, he noted how they're not in the car as much with the new testing rules, though they have done some testing "here and there".

He knows he's landing in a great organization and he wants to continue the cars success it had from last year. He feels he's a good fit into the RCR team. He said that not only did the team gel quickly, but some of their test showed they were pretty quick on the track too!

When asked about how the teams are skirting the "no test" rules on NASCAR sanctioned tracks, obviously NASCAR left the "out" on the sanctioned track part, but he feels there might be better ways to approach this testing ban to get it in the right direction because he feels it's not fair to the rookies coming in.

He almost made a good argument for the test ban here at Daytona. Noting that sometimes you can make a ton of changes for 1/10th of a second. But in the process, you'd go out on track, test, make changes, then sit on pit road for 30 or 40 minutes to get back out there and test the changes. Heading off to the GM proving grounds like they did, it was a different fashion of testing.

I keyed in on how the sponsor guys from Jack Daniels are a great bunch of guys to hang around. Dang, I'd like a Jack Daniels sponsor on my blog! I'm thnking product samples! Hmm.. might mess with the writing though!

He also pointed out that though he's not racing on the same team as his good friend, Jimmie Johnson, he said once you get to the track, that's all moot. It's business in the office so he doens't necessarily miss his bud while on-track.

As far as any inclinations of pondering his going into IndyCars, he said the best racing is right here in NASCAR and when you beat NASCAR drivers, you're beating the best.

GOOD LUCK TO Casey Mears for the 2009 season from NASCAR Bits and Pieces.

Do you think he can take the Chevy to victory lane this year? And make a repeat appearance for the No. 07 in the chase year? Chime in and let me know!

Photo Cr: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Some Things To Ponder


Johnson Looks to Make History – Again

Last season, Jimmie Johnson became the first driver in 30 years to win three consecutive championships and of course we're all watching for him to make a run at Cup Number 4!

With crew chief Chad Knaus back atop the pit box, all the ingredients are there. One problem: The bull's eye on the No. 48 team is even bigger. Plenty of teams are looking to knock them off.  For instance…

Edwards and Kyle Busch were Near the Goal

This close. That could've been the catchphrase for both Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch in 2008. Only a couple missteps – errors eventual champ Jimmie Johnson avoided – derailed their respective championship hopes.

Edwards won a series-high nine races during 2008, finishing second in the points standings. Only an accident at Talladega (Courtesy of a mistake by Carl) and engine troubles at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kept him from hoisting the championship trophy.

A winner of eight "regular season" races, Busch came into the Chase as the top seed – and runaway favorite. But engine trouble in the first to Chase events derailed his title hopes.
Will they rebound in 2009?

Gordon Wants Himself a New Streak

Last season stumped a win streak for four-time series champion Jeff Gordon. He had won at least two races a year for 14 consecutive year. Last year he won none. Despite this one foible, Gordon ended up in seventh in championship points.

New Faces In New Places

A number of drivers will have new homes this season. Here are a few:

    * After a 10-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing that included two series championships, Tony Stewart starts his own team in 2009 – Stewart-Haas Racing. He'll drive the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet.

    * Joining Stewart at his two-car operation will be Ryan Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 champion. Newman spent the last seven full seasons driving a Dodge with Penske Racing. This season he'll be in the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet.

    * Mark Martin returns for one more shot at an elusive championship. He joins a powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports team that has captured the last three series titles with Jimmie Johnson – and eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships in all. Martin will drive the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet.

    * Richard Petty doesn't have a new home, but has a few new partners. Petty Enterprises joined forces with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to form a four-car operation. One of the stable's drivers, though, is new – Reed Sorenson. Previously with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Sorenson will drive the No. 43 Dodge this season.

    * The same holds true for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two companies merged, with drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola under the Earnhardt/Ganassi umbrella.

Infineon Raceway Is A Green Place To Be

On the face of it all, NASCAR and other motor sports seems to be a wasteful endeavor and hurtful on the environment overall.

Though the hills aren't always that green at the track, but green can be an attitude. As for saving the environment or at least doing their part, Infinion Raceway accumulated some interesting statistics headed in that direction.

During the 2008 season at it's various events, the track collected an amazing 17 tons of recyclable materials. Eesh... I kind of feel sorry for the staff that had handle all that.

The breakdown for the 2008 motor-racing season included:
· 18,928 pounds of glass OR 35,768 glass bottles.
· 13,366 pounds of plastic bottles OR 179,639 plastic bottles.
· 2,274 pounds of aluminum cans OR 66,628 cans.
· Which makes a sum of 34,568 pounds OR 282,035 beverage containers in all.

The program at the track, which was started in 2004, is managed by Environmental Event Management Group.

Besides the containers noted above, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., provides oil recycling and re-refining services to Infineon Raceway, as well as 64 other racetracks/drag strips around the country. Everything that Safety-Kleen collects during an event such as motor oil, gasoline or antifreeze, is eventually put back into a usable product.

Safety-Kleen processes over 300 million gallons of oil a year, and every bit helps.

source: NASCAR Press Release

Thursday, January 22, 2009

NASCAR HOF Induction Process Announced

After much to do about waiting with a little bit of intensity of wondering just how NASCAR is going to decide who gets into their Hall Of Fame.

Here's the process:

Each year the HOF will have five inductees.
They'll be selected by a voting panel consisting of NASCAR industry leaders, manufacturer representatives, former competitors, the media and fans.
Inductees will be chosen from a list that has a maximum of only 25 candidates.
The main criteria for nomination and induction would be one's accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR.

Eligibility includes former drivers having competed for 10 years in NASCAR.
Be retired for a minimum of three years.
Non-drivers must have worked at least 10 years in the industry.
(Potential candidates with shorter careers may be considered if there are special circumstances.)

After the 20-member committee selects the candidates, the voting will entail a total of 48 ballots.
Twenty ballots will be from the nominating committee;
27 ballots will come from a group consisting of former drivers, former owners, former crew chiefs, manufacturer representatives and media;
one ballot will represent the results of a nationwide fan vote.  (Wow, the power!)

The inaugural list of candidates will be announced in June.
Voting will be completed by Sept. 15.
Results will be announced in October.

Following are breakdowns of the nominating committee and the voting committee.

Nominating Committee – 20 members
• Seven NASCAR representatives.
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director.
• NASCAR Hall of Fame Historian.
• Two track owners from International Speedway Corporation.
• Two track owners from Speedway Motorsports Incorporated.
• Track owner from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
• Track owner from Dover International Speedway.
• Track owner from Pocono Raceway.
• Four track owners from historic short tracks:

Bowman-Gray Speedway in Winston-Salem, N.C.;
Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C.;
Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, N.Y; and
Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in Irwindale, Calif.

Voting Committee – 47 members plus one fan vote
• 20 members of the nominating committee.
• 14 media representatives:
Three each from the National Motorsports Press Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Eastern Motorsports Press Association;
one each from FOX, Turner, ESPN, Motor Racing Network and Performance Racing Network.
• One representative each from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota.
• Three retired drivers.
• Three retired owners.
• Three retired crew chiefs.
• Fan vote.

There ya have it.  Everyone but my mother will vote in the candidates.  There might be a bit of a flaw with track owners voting from SMI and ISC.  Would that be just 2 votes?  Otherwise it seems to be a fairly comprehensive voting process that involves a lot of folks with different disciplines of perspective.

Now we wait and see who gets nominated and who gets in.
Any guesses folks?

[source:  NASCAR]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jimmie Johnson At Preseason Thunder

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series reigning champion Jimmie Johnson has been battling a cold, but says he's ready to get back into race mode during a news conference during Saturday's Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway.

(Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson said the break was odd because he hasn't been in a race car in a while and he's happy to be in the 24 hour race. He really enjoys that event. He is looking forward to trying to get a fourth championship. Notice has been served people!

As far as how much time it will take to get the feel back, he thinks with all the on-track activity, everyone will be pretty much up to speed pretty quickly. That said, he noted this is a restrictor plate race and that once everyone gets to California, that may be another matter all together.

Of course, one of the first questions that really was of importance was his ever-developing beard. Will it be permanent? He doesn't know. He said "I typically grow it out in the winter and just decided to kind of stick with it a little longer."

On his over-the-wall team: It is a team sport, and what those guys contribute on Pit Road is a huge part of their success. He feels lucky to have these guys on his side. Chad has made some little tweaks to things over the years to keep it fresh.

In regards to Mark Martin coming on board, he feels Mark will be a great asset to the team and that he's very intrigued by the man. He's curious about how Martin can drive a car as loose as he likes his cars to be. He thinks he can learn something from Martin. If that's the case, Johnson's gonna probably walk with even more titles!

On the idea of branding, Johnson said that most drivers think about that making themselves a brand, but at first it takes success. The on-track success some of the drivers have is the key ingredient to their potential brand success. He feels that 2009 will bring him the opportunities he's been looking for to expand on his brand.

Jimmie feels that this year, the threats to his success are the No. 99, 24, and 18 cars for sure.

Someone asked him about the adage if it ain't broke, don't fix it as far mucking with the car setups to generate their success and he made an interesting observation. His three championships started with the older car, the 2nd one was the mixed season with the old and new cars and last year was the COT. They did it across these three differentiating season. So there is nothing they can say they've consistently used across the three years.

According to sources, his off-track behavior is much different than his polished look on-track. He's known to be able to cut it up pretty good. He says he doesn't make an effort to seperate the two, but his in-car persona is his focus and once away from that, he is who he is. As he put it, "Off the track I'm usually leading the charge to something that could lead to trouble, in a good way. I love to have fun, golf cart surfing, as long as you don't hurt yourself you're fine. I love having fun, I really do, and I have a great group of friends and have plenty of fun off the track. This winter has been pretty hard on me. My liver is not proud of me right now. It's kind of hating me to be honest with you, but it's what you've got to do when you win three in a row."

With that said, I think I just might look at the man a little differently. He parties pretty hard it seems, married hot, and makes the bucks. Oh a day to be in his shoes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bruton Smith Wants Black Outs

It's bad enough that it's very expensive to go watch your local NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the track itself.  At least we have TV.  That we can afford.

But if Bruton Smith has anything to say about it, he wants to treat NASCAR like other stick and ball sports and black out the races in their local markets if the track doesn't sell out.

WTH is he thinking?  SO we get to watch all the prerace shows and then get dumped?  Nice.  So we are going to get punished for not being able to afford to buy tickets, buy track food and the costs of traveling to the track.  That would mean that no one in So Cal would have seen a Fontana race live in the last couple of years.  Sales have been on the slump there for some time.

I get where he's coming from.  Track sales are dwindling.  Then again if they weren't so damned expensive, maybe they wouldn't be.  Personally, I hate the rain policies.  If it rains, your plum out of luck.  It makes me leery to commit funds to the whim of the weather.

But regardless of understanding his take, obviously the man who owns Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte, Sonoma (Calif), Texas, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas does not realize that some of us are walking or biking to work to save our monies because there's a recession going on.  I live in an expensive zip code.  One of the most expensive in the country and no one here seems to notice there are money problems going on.  (NO, I;m not one of them....)  I guess Smith falls in that category and is completely dissing his fan base, no matter how dwindling it seems to be.

[source of my angst:  Hampton Roads]

2009 Paint Schemes

You know what I like about my favorite diecast source, Racing USA? Ya get to see the paint schemes before they hit the track. Check them out and pay homage to their awesome business. They've got everything you could ever want!!!

Carl Edwards

Scott Speed

David Ragan

Mark Martin!

Ryan Newman

Clint Bowyer

Jeff Burton

Jeff Gordon

Tony.... I mean Joey Logano.
(It will be weird for a while getting used to that.)

One of Kyle Busch's schemes

Matt Kenseth

Greg Biffle

Tony Stewart

Denny Hamlin

Now I have to git my butt to the track and take pics of the real things!

The Grand Am Endurance And NASCAR

The Grand Am's Rolex 24 at Daytona is set for January 26-27 which will then be followed by NASCAR's Daytona Speedweeks. Hence, the race fans wait is almost over.

With that, this 2009 GRAND AM will have Ganassi Racing looking to take their Fourth Straight Win. Last year, Chip Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates became the first team to win the Rolex 24 in three consecutive seasons. This year, it's going for four-in-a-row if they do take that checkered flag and dodge any of those mechanical woes that can sometimes pop up.

Ganassi Racing has two entries in the race to buffer their odds!
  • The No. 01 TELMEX/Target Lexus Riley which will be driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Montoya and Pruett have won the event the last two years.
  • The No. 02 Target/TELMEX Lexus Riley will be driven by Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Alex Lloyd.

With regards to the Rolex 24, a number of NASCAR drivers will start getting track time and the chance to test their sports car prowess in the Rolex 24:

Jimmie Johnson will drive the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley in the featured Daytona Prototype category. Along with Jimmie will be team regulars Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney and open-wheel champion Jimmy Vasser. This team finished 2nd overall last year.

As noted above, Juan Pablo Montoya is going for his three-peat with Montoya's favorite team mate, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

Other NASCAR drivers who have a foot up on the track time thing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona are
  • Casey Mears (Richard Childress entry)
  • Kyle Petty (Orbit Racing BMW/Riley);
  • A.J. Allmendinger (Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley) and
  • Colin Braun (Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley).
A note on Casey Mears: If he loses I won't feel one bit bad for him. His driving partner is going to be Danica Patrick, along with Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay. Oh poor boy. [AutoWeek]

On car owners from NASCAR shovig an entry in the Rolex 24:

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Roger Penske will enter a Porsche/Riley joining fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup owners Chip Ganassi, Felix Sabates and Richard Childress in the field.

[NASCAR press release]

Jeff Gordon Interview From PreSeason Thunder

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, explains to the media how three men -- Dale Earnhardt, Rick Hendrick and his stepfather -- have had a big impact on him. Gordon met with the press and fans during Saturday's Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The press got a chance to chat with Jeff Gordon, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. They touched on the off season, looking forward to speedweeks, his other team, Mark Martin and his creating his own brand and the testing ban and how that's actually helped.

Let's get to it, shall we?

See the transcript of this article over on NBaP's new spot, under Jeff Gordon's Interview

Monday, January 19, 2009

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch Are Doing The Double-Duty Again

Sadly, Clint Bowyer won't be running enough races this year to defend his Nationwide crown and that's going to leave the door open for the likes of Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. 

If Carl Edwards, the 2007 champion, is able to come anywhere near last year's incredible comeback karma, he is probably looking at becoming the series' seventh two-time champion.

Edwards, who has always been a full-time driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is one of two double-duty drivers who will vie for the 2009 championship.

When Kyle Busch isn't having snit fits from not winning every time out, he's done just about everything in the NASCAR Nationwide Series except win the title.  He'll also being pulling the double duty, if the points race looks good enough for him this year.  He won the series' Raybestos Rookie of the Year in 2004, and last year won 10 races in three different cars, finishing sixth in the standings despite running only 30 races. The 10 victories tied the record set by two-time champion Sam Ard in 1983.

The man is a nut.

Now we just need to keep an eye out to see how Edwards and Busch handle each other on the track this year!


Driver Quote - Ryan Newman

"We've kind of lost the thunder in Preseason Thunder because we're not testing, but at the same time we still have a responsibility to the fans to be able to come here and say thanks and say, hey, we'll be back in a few weeks, so check us out."

- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and defending Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman

[NASCAR Media]

Kyle Busch at Preseason Thunder Fanfest

Press Interview with Kyle Busch at Preseason Thunder:

Being joined by KYLE BUSCH for the NASCAR media group, he answered a few questions posed to him. Let's get right along to it:

On the confidence levels of coming into the Daytona 500: Because they had such a strong restrictor plate program last year, he's coming into this years 500 with a bucket load of confidence.

On Running both the Sprint Cup series and Nationwide, full schedule. He will be running the full Nationwide and the full Cup schedule. At least that's the plan. On top of that they looking at 12 to 14 Camping World Truck Series races and about 10 to 12 late model races of my own team.

On getting over the last 10 races of the year last year. Did it take long to get over it?: "Not really. Pretty much as soon as it was over, it was over. I was glad it was over."

On generating a different outcome than last year: Granted, the first two thirds went really well. Looking back at Loudon, they shouldn't have made the changes on Sunday morning that we did, the change in the length of the sway bar arm and the length that the angle of the dangle didn't fit together, it ended up pulling apart.

They couldn't do anything different about Dover. They never figured out the carburetor problems they had at Kansas and the rest of the season was a little bit good luck and bad luck. They've been working on braking and being able to turn the car at flat tracks with a little testing at New Smyrna, and have a test planned at Rockingham.

Does he have names for the cars that don't perform? They're cut up and thrown away or made into show cars. (Sounds like a vengeful take on his losing cars if you ask me!)

On what, if anything he learned from last season:
"When you lose luck it just changes everything it feels like. The biggest thing that we learned was just for me to work on the bad days. He says he just can't accept running bad, can't accept stuff falling apart and not being able to challenge for a win every week." (Like we didn't notice the fits!)

On what might keep him from running a full Nationwide season:
"Same thing as last year, just right at Milwaukee, Infineon, doing that trip. If you're too far behind in the Nationwide schedule, just skip out on it, forget about it. We've got some leeway in there. There's a couple races that I think J.D. didn't sell that we're just going to put like Gibbs Racing Oil on it or something like that that's our own sponsor, so we've got some room that we can play around with if we want to."

On possibly dealing with fewer wins this year and maturity, what kind of a challenge will it be to deal with less than what you accomplished last year?
He says this will be his biggest challenge and all they can do is work their hardest to continue to perform.

He was asked AGAIN about how he'll be different (Emotionally) this year on the racetrack compared to the past? I found this funny: He was honest and said he didn't know but is hoping that hopefully Tony Stewart with his new team can make it exciting, or Carl Edwards, or anybody else out there that wants to get down and dirty and grind up on each other.

On a possible scenario of running smaller fields while weathering the tough spell:
There is no rule that says there have to be 43 Cup cars, 43 Nationwide cars or 36 trucks but we'd be sacrificing better racing. He says the Truck Series will have 10 trucks that have legitimate chances to win every week. A higher number of cars in the Nationwide Series and the Cup series, even more. With all the folk that are looking for jobs, he thinks that some of the Cup guys available could go to Nationwide teams, helping them get better, mixing up the competition.

Source: NASCAR press relations

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Finally, A Decent NASCAR Joke

NASCAR NEWS...Jeff Gordon fires his entire pit crew.

This announcement followed Gordon's decision to take advantage of the government's scheme to employ Harlem youngsters.

The decision to hire them was brought about by a recent documentary on how unemployed youths from Harlem were able to remove a set of wheels in less than 6 seconds without proper equipment, whereas Gordon's existing crew could only do it in 8 seconds with millions of dollars worth of high tech equipment.

It was thought to be an excellent and bold move by Gordon's management team as most races are won or lost in the pits. However-Gordon got more than he bargained for!

At the crew's first practice session, not only was the inexperienced crew able to change all 4 wheels in under 6 seconds, but within 12 seconds they had changed the paint scheme, altered the Vin number, and sold the car to Dale Jr. for 10 cases of Bud, a bag of weed, and some photos of Jeff Gordon's wife in the shower.

Thanks to Bob C. for the email humor.  I can't believe I actually just got a joke in my in-box that was actually funny!  Can you believe that?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. At Preseason Thunder

NASCAR SprintCup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. at a news conference Saturday at Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The press was joined by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and they chatted about the Daytona 500 and your 2009 season with the No. 88 Chevrolet.

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. is looking forward to going into the season 2009 season and pragmatically has the same perspective I do about things when he said that "It will get here when it gets here," because we still have a few weeks and a Super Bowl to watch. He too is curiously wondering how the testing ban will affect everyone though he feels it won't really affect his team / organization.

With no testing, he basically indicated that "That really only takes a couple laps really to get reacclimated," and "it should just be like an old shoe, you know, your favorite pair of slippers or whatever."

In regards to comparing the old car to the new car, he was asked "How is the new car different here to rate in the draft strategy wise?" and Dale said that "This car is a little bit more difficult to move through the pack." The new car punches a bigger hole when two or three cars get lined up which effectively eleminates the the center lane which used to be an option in the past. The center lane effectively makes it harder on the car to "get any grip out of the car." due to less downforce.

He did say the reason the racing is so much better at the end of the 500 is "The great thing about the 500, though, is it starts in the daytime and ends at night, so when the sun goes down the temperature goes down, the grip comes up a little bit, so the racing right at the end of the race it's a whole lot better than what you've seen all day long."

Dale was asked about a lifetime supply offer of BBQ from Memphis barbecue and his reply kind of cut to the quick, at least for Memphis BBQ:

Basically he said those kind of deals get under your skin because even though he hasn't been there in quite some time and probably won't be in the area for any time soon, they use his name to try to sell tickets and get a "plug for no damn reason." But the Rendezvous dinner was his favorite and that Memphis has great barbecue ribs

He was asked if he evernamed any of your race cars: "Yeah, just for fun. We used to name them all the time. I built some street stocks. My granddaddy Robert G. used to name his race cars all the time. I had the Mach 5 and the car I raced at Myrtle Beach and the late models I built from the ground up, we called it Wild Eyed Crazy Mary." A Pearl Jam song name.

In regards to his first year with Hendrick or his take on the DEI Ganassi merger, he was real happy how the season started but the 2nd half of the season was a bit of a disappointment. As far as the merger is concerned, "I'm pretty happy, I think, for them." Dale says no one can get a word out of Mark Martin about it... "He's like talking to a rock."

"I don't know what they're doing, but I hope that it's good. Merging has always been pretty decent for everybody that I've seen it happen to. Chip has some real strong views, and he's a tough, tough, tough competitor. He's got a reputation, and I think that will be good for them because he's certainly visible at the racetrack, and that's good as an owner for them, and Teresa didn't really like coming to the track and didn't want to be around the racetrack. So now they've got one of the owners that will be at the racetrack. A driver has questions and he needs to talk to an owner sometimes on a Friday night or a Saturday, so that will be good."

When asked about all the people he's met, who is the one person you've come across that you were really surprised to find out was a NASCAR or a racing fan? His take was that he really appreciated LeAnn Rimes for being so kind to me and her husband was a big fan, and she, too, is a big fan, and they're just really really she was always just really pleasant.

Dirks Bentley is a big fan and that was great and they've become pretty good friends. But there are a lot of different people.

He was asked the inevitable about the Car of Tomorrow what he thinks it will take to win Daytona this year. Dale Earnhardt Jr said he's got to be fast, like the 18 and the 11 were last year and you need to handle good.

It's all about making the right choices near the end of the race but that every battle for position is a potential battle for the win.

When asked about the Bud Shootout this year and NASCAR's expanding into 28 entries Dale was hoping to avoid this particular question, but he said:

"I don't like the new format. You had a race for guys who won poles, you had a race for guys who won races in the middle of the season, and now neither one of those are hardly recognizable. I haven't asked NASCAR why they changed it, so I don't feel like I can rightfully say much without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves for their reasons. But apparently there were some reasons they changed it, and it's obviously better for the manufacturers with this new format for the Shootout. But it's less about why the race was started in the first place.

It just sucks because I'm such a historian of the sport, and I just like all the history and I like all the cool things about the history, and I like looking back on the guys who were in this race in the '80s and '90s and why they were in it and how they got in it and who missed it the next year and made it the next year. I don't know, just sort of things change. Maybe there's nothing wrong with this new format. Maybe I just hate change. I like the old format.

On Aric Almirola having no guarantees after Daytona and the 8 car being in question for the rest of the season he says he's emotionally connected to the number and he hopes the No 8 can run all year. As far as Almirola, because he's had to put off this season. He's been pretty excited the last couple of years looking forward to this season and now it's up in the air.

"So much has changed in the last six months in this sport, in the last 18 months a bunch has changed, and I just hope we can get all settled down somehow and start having a little bit of order around here and start rebuilding, everybody getting some stability financially to where we can have more expectations than we have questions."

That wraps up some of the material he touched on yesterday in Preseason Thunder! Hope you enjoy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reformat of 2009 Budweiser Shootout

NASCAR announced Friday a revision to the 2009 Budweiser Shootout on February 7th 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.

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.
At least NASCAR fixed the anti-Tony rule they messed up putting out there last year.

Source: NASCAR Press Release

Tony Stewart Chatting At Preseason Thunder

Excerpts from Tony Stewart's NASCAR interview:

In his new team of Stewart Haas Racing, driving No. 14 Chevrolet with Old Spice/Office Depot sponsorship, Tony Stewart says it's different for sure, as an owner and a driver but something that he's looking forward to. (Until the insanity sets in!) We're had a great off season. For Tony, it's been the most exciting off season he's ever had because of the anticipation.

As far as driver development under Stewart Haas Racing, he says right now he just wants to keep his job as a driver right now. For now, they're focused on him and Ryan and getting the two teams they have competitive.

In case you haven't heard, NASCAR ADDED A WILD CARD RULE for the SHOOTOUT that allows a manufacturer to add a wildcard driver. For Tony that means he now can run the Shootout and has that extra track time and he's excited about that. Not to mention that it was a nice cover / fix by NASCAR on their own oversight of some of the drivers while they were letting newbies into the Shootout... oops... but nice cover. It's nice to be able to make your own rules as you go. (Anyone remember Calvin-Ball from Calvin and Hobbs)

He felt his timing was most fortunate in being able to sign Ryan Newman on board and getting their sponsors before the bottom fell out of the economy.

With the advent of picking up the Office Depot sponsorship, someone asked if we'll be seeing back flips when he wins. LOL. He said only if he wants to go to the hospital and be in traction for two or three months.

In regards to the economy and all of motorsports, including Indy racing, he said it was a fortunate amount of timing for his team since other teams were letting people go and it created a kind of buffet of available talent.

The down side to team ownership was that he never realized there was a 6:00 a.m. until this year, now that he has to actually get up that early. Poor guy.

As far as personal driver goals, he doesn't have a set date for when he's going to stop driving and he's really focused on winning the Daytona 500 in addition to winning at Darlington and Vegas and California where they haven't won yet.

Source: NASCAR Press Release

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Siegel To Leave What Was DEI

Max Siegel left SONY BMG to do one thing, maybe two in DEI and neither worked out. He stayed on for some time beyond but now his usefulness to what was once DEI is done.

DEI has become the museum everyone said Teresa would make it and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is pursuing his rightful path in NASCAR where he can best be served with decent equipment, practice, etc..

Now that DEI has merged with Ganassi Racing, his time has come. (At least now the race team will have an on-track presence at the races verse when Teresa didn't seem to care enough to show up for the weekend events.... guess she doesn't work weekends.)

With that, Siegel is leaving DEI at the end of this month and headed to greener pastures but he's staying with NASCAR to manage NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program.

Siegel's aim is to make the program more credible within and out of NASCAR.

source: associated press

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Special Daytona 500 Ticket Prices

A limited number of tickets in select areas on the famed Superstretch for the 51st annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15 will be rolled back from $99 to $55, Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig announced.

The $55 ticket price for the Daytona 500 is the lowest ticket price for "The Great American Race" since 1995.

"The roll back of ticket prices in select areas for the Daytona 500 is a significant and important step for race fans," Braig said. "These are challenging times for everyone and we hope that these adjustments in ticket prices will make it more affordable for race fans to witness the excitement and pageantry of the Daytona 500 in person.

"And even though these are tough times, this is a great opportunity for race fans to attend 'The Great American Race.' Along with the rollback in ticket prices, parking is always free, race fans can continue to bring their coolers with food and beverages and we've worked with area hotels to make their stay even more affordable."

Tickets and great camping packages for DIRECTV Speedweeks and the 51st annual Daytona 500 can be purchased online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

In addition to rolling back ticket prices, Daytona International Speedway has also created several unique ticket packages that give fans added value and one-of-a-kind experiences with their race tickets during DIRECTV Speedweeks.

Daytona International Speedway's ticket price adjustments is the first of many initiatives that International Speedway Corporation is planning to make throughout the year for race fans so that attending race events is easier and more affordable.

To purchase race tickets for DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500, go online to or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Ryan Newman Media Interview

Ryan was kind enough to participate in a teleconference with the Media. Here's a select number of questions I pulled from the interview: ( I listened in but didn't ask any questions)

Ryan, coming into Daytona, what's it feel like to be able to roll into the Speedway and be called the defending Daytona 500 winner?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I wish the year hadn't passed already almost because it was pretty cool. I'm ready to defend it but I'm not sure I want to give up the title because I've got a 1 in 43 chance of doing that. It was a great win last year, for myself, for Penske Racing.

Q. I guess I'm going to ask you what changes you've noticed or that you know are coming up at Stewart Haas Racing, how much you've been to the shop, and if anything is real different over there and what you've found as you've gotten started.

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I have kind of spent some time vacationing, which I don't typically do, just because it is vacation time. Krissie and I went to Idaho to do some snowmobiling through New Year's and came back, and I went on a little man trip, went hunting up in Illinois, and got back and doing a little bit of work this week.

But just in general, Tony Gibson, Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb, all those guys, Bobby Hutchins, are working on putting the family tree together. They've done a great job in my opinion so far. We're really looking forward to testing. Tomorrow we're going down to test in New Smyrna, Florida, with the 39 and the 14. Just look forward to getting some of the first experiences underneath our belt.

Obviously with the testing schedule this year it's a little bit different, so just want to make sure we've got everything shined up for the Daytona 500.

Q. In the 2008 Daytona 500 you passed Tony Stewart in the last half lap or so to win the race. Pretend it's the 2009 Daytona 500 and it's you and Tony again. What do you do now that he's your boss?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, if we had to do the same thing last year and replay it, I would anticipate Tony pulling up in front of my line and I would push Tony ahead, knowing that I would be his teammate. Either way, Tony knows I'm a racer and I know he's a racer, and we'll race until the end, but we'll not sacrifice each other's performance to do that. That's the most important thing.

Q. Starting off with a new team, and now that you've been there a little bit, what are your realistic expectations for the year? What do you think the team can do?

RYAN NEWMAN: I am confident coming out of the box that we'll be a contender at the Daytona 500. I feel that there's going to be some things that we'll have to learn, but I think as a group, with our team, with the U.S. Army Chevrolet, that the people that we have with Tony Gibson and his group that came over from BEI and all the other people that were there from Haas racing that we'll be competitive. I feel with the Hendrick components, myself and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson, that there's no reason that we're not.

Secondly, goal wise our goal is for both cars to make it into the chase. Once we're in the Chase, we'll determine how much of a contender we are for the championship.

Q. I'm just wondering if now that you've had a chance to kind of interact with Tony in his new role as owner if you've got any good Tony stories? Has he surprised you with anything, or has it been about what you expected?

RYAN NEWMAN: No, I'd say the one thing that stands out in my mind when you asked me that was Tony has kind of welcomed me into his family. And when I say family, I don't mean Stewart Haas Racing. He invited my wife Krissie and I up to his place. They did the charity hunt with Johnny Morris from Bass Pro Shops and Bill Jordan from Realtree Outdoors and gave a little girl who is ill an opportunity to shoot a deer, and she did, and it put a smile on her face. Just a situation like that, to do something good with my owner and other people is something I didn't really expect, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Q. You mentioned that you're going to be testing at New Smyrna Speedway this week. How much testing have you guys been able to do in the wintertime?

RYAN NEWMAN: We tested once at the big Rockingham track, and just a one day test, just to kind of get to meet and know each other on the radio as well as person to person, and this will be, I think, our last test before the season starts. I don't think that there's a necessary need in testing to the point that we're going out there to make cars faster. I believe that as an organization and as a team we can make the cars fast in the shop, be prepared to come off the truck and without testing be competitive.

Q. Tony is a Daytona boy, so I've got a particular interest in him. How is the communication between you guys? I know you guys are just starting, but have you gelled yet? Do you speak the same language?

RYAN NEWMAN: Honestly that's what we're going to work on tomorrow when we go to New Smyrna. He's going to be there and we'll have the 14 and 39 cars there. For me it's important to understand what his balance feels like, and vice versa; for Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson to work together; to understand when Tony says the car is loose that it's drivable or undrivable for me and vice versa. Those are the things that we'll work on from a communication standpoint and from a teamwork standpoint within the drivers and the crew chiefs and the teams tomorrow to be prepared not just for Daytona but for California.

Q. How have things been with the Army sponsorship? Have you gotten to do anything with the Army yet or do you have anything planned in the near future?

RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, yesterday I went to Fort Bragg with some of the members of the team. That was really a treat. It was a lot of fun, shot some guns, did some simulation things. They fired a few bombs off, shotguns inside of a 20 by 20 room with rubber walls, and I was in on part of that. The coolest thing I'd say was to be in their vertical wind tunnel, which was the simulation for basically skydiving, and to be able to do that in about six minutes, to be able to do it on my own, that was pretty neat.

To be the driver for the U.S. Army Chevrolet is an honor for me, and to see some of their technology and safety and some of the things that they do to prepare their team and their organization just as we do was pretty neat.

Q. I wanted to ask you something about something from last week. David Stremme was on a conference call and I had asked him one thing about what are some of the things that need to improve at Penske for that organization to be in the elite, among the top four, and he talked about a lot of different things. One of the things he said was, "You had Ryan Newman who was here start off the season very well, and then he knew he was leaving. It was kind of he had done a very good job, but he knew he was on his way out and he was going to do some other things."

I asked him just to clarify if he thought you were quitting on the team, and he said, "No, I don't think Ryan gave up at all." But he says, "Just as a driver and as a team, you see toward the end of the year there's a lot of things happening." He goes on to say, "If you're going to another organization, it's in your mind that, hey, I'm leaving, I'm going to a better place they feel."

I want to ask you a couple things in regard to that; one, if you had any comment in relation to that; and two, what might you say to people who might think lack of success at the end of last year for your team would be related to you looking ahead?

RYAN NEWMAN: David's comment, to me it's kind of vague. You could read it several different ways. But I think he was just talking to the effect of I was moving on. And when you're moving on, it's hard to not necessarily be as dedicated, but for the organization and everything to click the way it was, and at the point that I decided to move on, it wasn't very successful.

The bottom line was I moved on, and I'm happy being where I am with the U.S. Army and Stewart Haas Racing. As far as the situation goes, I felt grateful to have Tony Stewart who was my future teammate to be going through the same situation and talking to him, him separating himself from Joe Gibbs Racing and the Home Depot and all the things that he did, where I was separating from Alltel and all the great successes that we had. It was difficult to separate those things. I guess it's kind of like working two jobs at the same time. Eventually you run out of sleep.

But for me it was just a difficult time to move on. My dedication to driving the race car never changed. I drove every lap as hard as I possibly could, and we just didn't have the successes, even though I was moving on at the end of the year, that I even would have hoped. My goal was still to win five of the last five races. That never changed. It's just, it didn't happen, and it's easy to look at things like that.

Q. Ryan, is it going to be strange at all going back to defend the Daytona 500 title in a different car, different crew and all that stuff?

RYAN NEWMAN: I think the strange moment will be going to the Daytona 500 Experience and being part of that and pulling the old car out. That will be, I guess, the cutting of the umbilical cord of sorts. Again, I really look forward to competing next year this year with Stewart Haas Racing in the U.S. Army Chevrolet. I really look forward to creating our own successes.

Q. It's more of a clarification point than anything else. Can you explain to me the transition of points between the 66 car to your car and where the points are going to come from for Tony and your thought process going into the race based upon that and how that actually formed from the Haas cars into your cars and now Tony's cars from last year?

RYAN NEWMAN: That's a good question (laughing).

Q. I've tried to figure it out. It's complicated and I've got other people trying to figure it out, too. We're trying to clarify because Tony can kind of lean on Sprint Cup champion. Does he take the worst car out of the group and you take the next worst car out of the group and that guarantees you the first six races, that sort of thing?

RYAN NEWMAN: As far as I know, this is the way it all kind of works out. The 66 becomes the 39 in points. Scott Riggs did an excellent job to get back into the top 35 after getting out of it to lock us into a spot for the first five or six races, whatever it is. Tony has the 70 points, which are outside the top 35, but he also has the most recent champion's provisional for anybody that's not locked into the top 35. So that in essence locks him into the first five or six races or whatever. That's the gist of it as far as I know.

Q. What kind of attraction or draw to your family and friends is that gold Daytona 500 trophy wherever you have it displayed, and do you still give it some special attention?

RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, it's actually sitting right on my desk on my computer in the house. It's a special piece for me. Obviously it's one of a kind, and it was kind of interesting when I got the trophy at first; I thought, man, that's a pretty cool trophy. They were like, yeah, it's gold. I figured every one of them was gold. The 50th running was pretty neat.

It's definitely special. It's a unique trophy. I'm definitely into old cars and stuff like that, and to see the old car on top of it, that's pretty neat, as well.

Q. We sat together last year at the Kennedy Space Center when you got your flags back from the International Space Station, and we talked a little bit about Tony, and at the time it hadn't been announced that you were going to drive for him. But everybody knew that Tony was leaving at that time, and I asked you the question, just random, you kind of gave me a story, I was too dumb to see it, though, I said, would you like to have Tony Stewart as a teammate? And I remember you laughed and you looked at me, and you said something about being far fetched, and then you looked at me again, and you said, "But I know more than you do." I said, "Well, go ahead, expand on that." You said, "No, leave it at that; I know more than you do." So you knew at that time, that there were conversations that you might be joining Tony.

You've just talked about how difficult it was finishing the year knowing you were moving on. How difficult was it maybe those couple of months over the summer that you knew you guys were putting this thing together but you had to be so tight lipped about it?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, it was tough for me because I was off of a Daytona 500 victory with a team that I had been with for seven years, and I had a situation that came where I potentially had an opportunity to move on. Tony gave me that opportunity, we talked about it, and my season was kind of dissolving, let's say, throughout the summer months. But yeah, you're right. You potentially have a good future in "Law and Order" or "CSI." I answered the way I wanted to answer, and you kind of got your answer without knowing too much.

Q. My question to you is you have a degree in mechanical engineering, and to the young guys that are coming up in racing right now, how has that impacted your career in terms of being able to communicate to team owners, to sponsors, to crew chiefs? How has that been able to help you out in your career in racing?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, for me it's just taken me to another level to understand the race car, the physics part of it, the gravities and the way all the things work with the race car mechanically. That makes a difference to me personally. I'm not saying it makes me smarter than everybody else, but it's made me a smarter person to the point that I tell anybody if you have the opportunity to go to college or to a university to get a further education, do it.

What you major in isn't what's going to make you the ultimately smart guy. It's the well roundedness that you come out of any kind of further education with that makes you a better person and will make you a smarter person in order to make more money and be happier in the future.

For me my actual title is vehicle structure engineering. It's a mechanical backbone, but it gave me the opportunity to be flexible in school, and then I obviously have that diploma and that education to fall back on for the rest of my career.

Q. I wanted to ask you about sponsorship, and you're currently not fully being sponsored. Do you worry about that? Do you think about that, and your thoughts on where you're at with that? Is there anything you can do to help further that along in the situation.

RYAN NEWMAN: I'm really excited about what the U.S. Army has done to jump on board and be a sponsor for our #39 Chevrolet. I know that the people at Stewart Haas Racing are continually working on the additional sponsorship to fulfill all 37 races. But in the meantime hopefully we can come out of the box strong. My focus is Daytona, Daytona 500, and in the end they pay me to drive the race car, and that's my ultimate responsibility. But I do stay aware of sponsorship and things that I may be obligated to later in the year.

Q. So you're not worried at being partially sponsored right now?

RYAN NEWMAN: I wouldn't say I'm worried. I just know it's something that the people at SHR are focusing on, and rightfully so. It's a trying time in our economy and we're trying to do the things that we can to be as successful as we can. Having correct sponsorship that will align and work correctly with Office Depot, Old Spice and the U.S. Army is important as well as making our performance and trying to make our team's dreams come true.

Q. You mentioned that you've been over to Rockingham. I'm just wondering, what's that place looking like these days? Do you foresee more testing over at Rockingham because of the rules? And also, where did you say you were going to test and when? Earlier I didn't catch that.

RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, Rockingham is still a good place to test. It's a great racetrack. I really, really enjoyed the driving around there. It was a lot of fun, really more so racing than driving. The tires fell off so fast that as you test it as a driver it's kind of frustrating, but when you're racing it's kind of like being the local go kart track when they throw the water or powder down; it's kind of slick. Tomorrow actually we're testing in New Smyrna, Florida, both the 14 and the 39, so we're looking forward to that, as well.

Q. Did you get a look at I know Jimmie Johnson talked about them building the short track that's supposed to simulate Martinsville over there at Rockingham. Did you get on that, too?

RYAN NEWMAN: No, I have not tested that. I went over and looked at it. They call it "Little Rock" because it's at Rockingham, but I think Andy Hillenburg has done a great job to try to resurrect what was a great racetrack for the fans to come back and enjoy some great racing. He's done some great things there.

Q. I apologize if you've already answered this. What's it like this year more than any other year, the fact that there is no Preseason Thunder in the actual sense of cars on the track and getting ready for the speed weeks and stuff like that at Daytona?

RYAN NEWMAN: Realistically it's three days off that could have and should have been off in my opinion. I never thought that we needed to test. Sure, it's nice the one thing that I wish we could test for is for the fans because there are several fans that show up at Daytona and come to the racetrack and enjoy the atmosphere and the testing. For instance, some fans might not be able to afford to come for the Daytona 500 or the speed weeks or anything else, or any other race for that matter; they might just want to come to testing. I wish we could service the fans in that way, but in the end with the economy the way it is, I don't feel like we need to test as a team or NASCAR needs to test as an association. It's all good with me. We just get a couple more days off that they find something else for us to do.