Monday, November 27, 2006

Despite Setbacks, Specht Says Ford Motor Company Staying Put In NASCAR

Ford Racing Technology’s Greg Specht said this week that the automaker is not panicking in the face of defections by Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler to rival manufacturers, and has absolutely no plans to leave NASCAR.

Fans of the Blue Oval have had little to cheer about lately, with FoMoCo placing only four drivers in the final Nextel Cup Top 20. Just four years ago, nine Ford drivers ended the season in the Top 20 in points. Meanwhile, rival Chevrolet extended its recent string of manufacturer's championships in 2007, and celebrated the 400th Nextel Cup victory for its legendary Monte Carlo nameplate. Since the beginning of NASCAR’s modern era in 1972, Chevrolet has earned 26 of 35 NASCAR manufacturers’ championships.

Ford’s Specht called the automaker’s 2006 struggles part of a natural ebb and flow of competitive fortune, and said NASCAR racing remains an important part of its heritage.

”It's critical, and it's an integral part of our marketing platform,” he said. “We want to maintain our image and the loyalty that we've developed through our participation in racing. We want to maintain our competitive edge.”

Specht said he has been assured by corporate management that Ford will remain a viable part of NASCAR, and that adequate funding will be allocated to keep the automaker competitive with Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota. Ford CEO Edsel Ford made similar comments on MRN Radio two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Listener John Johnson has his own sign, and some free time on his hands...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Who Would You Rather Be?

The soldier with Antron Brown sitting on your lap?

Or the soldier stapped to Angelle Sampey's back? YOU MAKE THE CALL!

(Photos courtesy of

A (Not So) Fond Farewell

NBC bid a fond farewell to the NASCAR community Sunday, with its broadcast of the “Ford 400” from Homestead-Miami Speedway. In truth, however, the network kissed NASCAR goodbye a long, long time ago.

Before I go further, a qualification. I have no complaint with the on-air product NBC delivered this season. Bill Weber, Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach, along with the pit road tandem of Allen Bestwick, Matt Yocum, Marty Snider and Steve Burns guided viewers through the complicated world of NASCAR Nextel Cup racing in expert fashion this season, and to them, I say, “Thank you.”

To their network, however, I say, “Thanks for nothing.”

After six years as one of NASCAR’s broadcast partners, NBC opted out of the bidding process for the next multi-year television contract a year ago, saying the price was too high. That’s their call to make, since they know better than anyone whether NASCAR racing has been a moneymaker for them, or not. Unfortunately, instead of exiting the sport with their heads held high, the powers-that-be at the Peacock Network elected to leave NASCAR on their hands and knees.

Rather than giving NASCAR Nextel Cup racing the vigorous promotion it deserves, NBC gave the sport the back of its collective hand this season. In stark contrast to years past, there were no “NASCAR on NBC” promotional announcements during prime time programming; no reminders that America’s fastest growing sport could be seen “right here on Sunday afternoon.” NASCAR was the best-kept secret in NBC’s lineup, to the point where in the last few months, viewers were far more likely to see Nextel Cup promotional announcements on ABC/ESPN (next year’s broadcast partners) than they were on NBC.

They also bailed out on Victory Lane ceremonies in two of the final three races, shuffling the winner's interview and post-race analysis to CNBC, where many viewers were unable to follow.

That’s a sad state of affairs, and one of which NBC should be ashamed.

Lack of promotional effort by NBC is not solely to blame for NASCAR’s diminished 2006 TV ratings. The season is too long, a number of races are far too long, and with the exception of Tony Stewart, the Busch Brothers and Jeff Burton, NASCAR’s stars are in danger of becoming little more than “talking heads;” spouting rubber-stamp answers and sponsor plugs into every available microphone. NASCAR continues to ignore these factors at it own risk, but those shortcomings do not in any way negate NBC’s lack of effort on NASCAR’s behalf.

NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer called Sunday’s Miami swan song, “a bittersweet occasion," saying, “we had a remarkable six years with NASCAR, (and) we're proud of our association with it.” He said the network leaves NASCAR "with enormous pride in having been a part of lifting NASCAR from the place it was when we took over six years ago, to the place at which we leave it today.

"It's really difficult to go through a lame-duck year,” he said. “I think…the crew brought enormous professionalism and passion to our final year, and all of us are really proud of the job they've done."

Sadly, network management did not acquit itself nearly as well as the on-air talent. “Lame-duck” or not, NBC could have (and should have) promoted the sport to the best of its ability, to the benefit of all parties. Its failure to do so serves as fair warning to any other professional sports franchise that might be tempted to partner with them in the future.

NBC proved itself to be a fair-weather friend this season, and NASCAR is diminished as a result.

Wells, PPI Ready To Close Up Shop

Sunday’s “Ford 400” at Homestead-Miami Speedway was likely the final ride for Cal Wells and his PPI Racing Team. Longtime sponsor Tide announced a few weeks ago that it will leave the team (and the sport) at the end of the season, and Wells has been unsuccessful in securing a new backer for his struggling Nextel Cup team. Sources close to the situation say Wells informed his employees that he will close the doors later this week, after a hoped-for sponsorship deal fell through.

Wells came to NASCAR from the CART Open Wheel series in 2000, amid considerable fanfare. He secured sponsorship from both McDonald's and Tide, who had previously backed popular veterans Bill Elliott and Ricky Rudd, and raised the financial bar in NASCAR racing almost immediately. He offered lucrative contracts to drivers, crewchiefs and crewmembers alike, raiding other teams for personnel and earning the ire of rival team owners.

Unfortunately, Wells learned that money alone does not guarantee success in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing. In his seven years of NASCAR competition, Wells went to Victory Lane only twice; both with driver Ricky Craven at the wheel. One of those wins was a truly memorable one, with Craven emerging victorious from a last-lap, fender-banging duel with Kurt Busch at venerable Darlington Raceway in March of 2002. But as a whole, Wells’ tenure as a NASCAR owner was unremarkable. His last Top-10 finish (an eighth) came courtesy of road-racing specialist Ron Fellows at Infineon Raceway in 2005, and this season, PPI Motorsports ended the year ranked a woeful 36th in points, with a season-best finish of 19th.

Kvapil announced last week that he will join Jack Roush's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team next season, arguably becoming the first driver ever to be promoted from Nextel Cup to Trucks. Kvapil pulled no punches in justifying the move, saying, “I can’t go through another season like the one we’ve had.”

Cal Wells is a likeable guy who accepts much of the blame for the shortcomings of his team. Speaking to Sirius Speedway during preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year, Wells said, “I have made a lot of mistakes. I made some bad personnel calls in the early years of this team, and I’m still paying for them today. This business is so competitive that once you get behind, it’s tough to catch up. Everyone is working at 110% capacity, and that doesn’t leave much room for anyone to gain ground.”

Sadly, Cal Wells and PPI proved incapable of catching up.

Next February, Wells and his bright orange #32 “Tide Ride” may scarcely be missed among all the multi-car teams and shiny new Toyotas clogging the garage area. But his absence is worth noting, if only for what it represents. Now, only Robby Gordon, BAM Racing and a rogue’s gallery of part-time backmarkers are left to carry the banner of NASCAR’s once-proud single-car teams.

A New Series For Jack Roush

Last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR mega-team owner Jack Roush renewed his long-running harangue against NASCAR’s new Car Of Tomorrow, saying he would like to see more leeway in the rules, and more opportunity for teams to be creative in the way they construct their cars.

“I would have a rule book that said you come to the race track at the assigned time, you have four tires and you burn gasoline,” said Roush. “That would be about all I would require.”

“I would pretty much `Run What You Brung,’ but (NASCAR is) determined to have this thing where it’s convenient for them to regulate it and officiate it even-handedly and fairly. To that end, they make every effort to take the racing out of all but just a few things.”

Roush decried the relatively low-tech state of NASCAR racing, saying, “There is very little innovation in the car today,” complaining that standardized body templates prevent him from custom-building cars to fit the idiosyncrasies of his drivers.

“If you look at a handful of drivers like the Roush organization has, one guy is really nervous when (the car is) loose…(while) other guys say, ‘I don’t care if it’s loose, just get me all the downforce that you can,’” said Roush. “The Car of Tomorrow is going to have an aero variance that’s much, much less than it is today, and there’s going to be a lot of people that won’t be able to drive those cars. Today, they can compensate or adjust the aero-match on the car to suit the preference of the driver.”

Instead of lowering the cost of racing, Roush said the COT will actually increase the cost of competition, since money-is-no-object owners like himself will spend whatever is necessary to get an advantage. “It’s forcing us to spend money on technology that we would rather not have to spend, in order to find an edge and suit the needs of the driver,” he said.

Clearly, Jack Roush is in the wrong league.

NASCAR -- with its stringent guidelines and devotion to easily policed, old-school technology – is not the place for a wide-open, "Run What You Brung" kind of guy like Jack. Maybe he should consider selling his multi-car operation (I hear DEI is shopping around) and going somewhere else, where the rules allow the kind of unfettered creativity he craves.

Formula One, perhaps.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gaughan At A Crossroads

Just three years removed from a disappointing championship loss here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Brendan Gaughan finds himself at a crossroads.

It has been 36 months since Gaughan came to South Florida in the thick of the Truck Series championship battle, only to have a late crash in the season-ending Ford 200 snatch the title from his grasp. Since then, the Las Vegas native’s career has seen more ups than downs. A promotion to the Nextel Cup Series proved short-lived, after he was released by Penske-Jasper Racing following his rookie season. A return to the Truck Series with his family owned Orleans Racing Team has not produced the results he had hoped for, either. He comes to Homestead ranked 15th in points with just three top-five and four top-10 finishes, and says the decisions he makes in the next few weeks will go a long way in determining the course of his racing future.

“It’s no secret, this has been a tough season,” said Gaughan Friday, just before a gratifying second-place finish in the season-ending Ford 200. “We have struggled to get the trucks the way we want them, and Lady Luck has not been on our side at all. We’ve busted our butts to improve, but the results have not been what we had hoped for.”

A reduction in factory support from Daimler-Chrysler has hindered the efforts of their team’s this season, and Gaughan says he has spoken to other manufacturers about making a change in 2007.

“I’m the most loyal guy in the world, and Dodge has been very good to me and my team over the years. I am grateful for everything they have done, but I also have a responsibility to our sponsors, employees and fans to do whatever I can to make this team competitive. And if that means moving to another manufacturer, that’s what we’ll have to do.”

Gaughan has spoken to Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge about a 2007 partnership, and said all three manufacturers have their advantages and disadvantages. He also believes Dodge’s fortunes may improve next season, as well.

“Our main problem right now is aero,” he said. “The way NASCAR measures the noses on these trucks, we’re at a huge disadvantage. Each make of truck has a different front splitter setup, and other manufacturers – Toyota in particular – have built their noses to take advantage of the templates. Dodge hasn’t updated its nose in quite some time, and as a result, we’re taking a knife to a gunfight most weeks.

“NASCAR’s going to change the way they tech these trucks next year; using a template that runs nose-to-tail, and makes everyone run essentially the same nose profile. That’ll help, but whether it will be enough to make Dodge competitive again, I just don’t know.”

Gaughan said it has saddened him to see Dodge’s fortunes plummet in the last few seasons.

“Not long ago, Orleans Racing and Bobby Hamilton Racing were championship contenders,” he said. “There were also a bunch of other strong Dodge teams running up front from week to week.”
Today, there are just three Dodge teams left; Orleans, BHR and Evernham, and there is a distinct possibility that there could be just one Dodge Ram in the Truck Series field at Daytona in February. Evernham’s Betty Crocker sponsorship ends this weekend, and there is widespread speculation that he will not return to the Truck Series next year. If Gaughan decides to go in a different direction, that would leave only Bobby Hamilton’s #18 truck in the Dodge camp in 2007.

Gaughan said he will do whatever it takes to get his team back to the front of the Truck Series pack.

“I race because I love to race, and it’s definitely a lot more fun when you’re running well. Little problems that get ignored when you’re winning races turn into huge issues when you’re not. When you’re struggling on the racetrack, it affects every aspect of the team. I’m the same driver I was three years ago, and this team still has what it takes to win.

“All we need is the tools.”

All-Time Busch Series Top 25? Well, Maybe...

NASCAR announced the results of its “25 Greatest NASCAR Busch Series Drivers” poll last week, with Mark Martin earning the number-one ranking. Voting was conducted over the last few weeks on both NASCAR.COM and, and Martin -- the all-time leader in Busch Series wins – with 47 -- received the most votes in both polls.

In the media voting, two-time series champion Sam Ard finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jack Ingram, and Dale Earnhardt. The fan poll ranked Earnhardt Jr. second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Martin Truex, Jr. Over 152,000 fans voted in the poll, while more than 160 media members voted in the poll.

Polls of this type are prime targets for criticism and second-guessing, and I’m not about to miss my chance to jump on the bandwagon by pointing out a few glaring inequities. For instance, while it’s difficult to argue that the Earnhardts – both Senior and Junior – deserve a place in the all-time Busch Series top five, was it really necessary to vote a third member of the Earnhardt stable – Martin Truex, Jr. – into the top five? His numbers are solid, with two series championships to his credit, but his #5 fan ranking puts him far ahead of fellow two-time titlists Jack Ingram and Larry Pearson, both of whom recorded more wins than the 13 Truex has collected in his six-year, full- and part-time Busch Series career. In my opinion, the media was closer to the mark when they placed Truex in the #17 position, all-time.

The media got it right with Sam Ard, as well, voting him second only to Martin on the all-time list. The fans, meanwhile, rated him only 17th best; proving once again that their collective memory extends only as far as yesterday’s lunch. For the record, Ard was a two-time Busch Series champion (1983 and 1984), won 22 times in just 92 starts, and is the all-time leader in races won in a season, with 10.

Jack Ingram also took a hosing from the fans. Two series championships and 31 wins left the legendary “Ironman” 21st on the fans’ list, two spots behind Michael Waltrip, whose 11 career wins and no championships pale by any logical comparison. Ingram got a free-ride from the fans compared to fellow two-time champion Larry Pearson, however. NASCAR fans left Pearson off their top-25 list entirely, ignoring his 1986 and 1987 Busch Series titles, and 15 career wins. Both of those statistics are equal to or better than those of Truex, who the fans ranked at #5.

Other drivers on the “No Love List” include 1990 champion Chuck Bown (unranked by the fans despite 11 wins in only four full seasons) and Kevin Harvick, who my colleagues in the media voted only seventh-best all-time, despite two championships, 26 wins in eight seasons, and a 2006 campaign that puts all others to shame.

In the “overrated” department, our pal Kenny Wallace unfortunately leads the way. Fans voted “Herm The Worm” 12th overall; ahead of Ard, Ingram and the legendary Tommy Houston. I love ya Herm, but nine wins in 381 starts over 17 years is not enough to make you one of the Busch Series’ all-time greats.

Darrell Waltrip made the Top-25 with both the fans and the media, despite never running more than 13 races in a season. He did win 13 times in 95 starts, but in my opinion, his Nextel Cup exploits earned him more credit than his Busch Series record deserves. Same for Dale Jarrett – ranked 15th by the fans and 25th by the media – despite just 11 wins in 398 starts over 19 years.

NASCAR’s overall goal with the Top-25 Ranking was two-fold; to honor some of the series’ greats, and to inspire some spirited conversation. Looks like they succeeded on both counts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Biggest Wreck In The History Of NASCAR

No, it wasn't "The Big One" at Talladega. In fact, it happened decades ago at Daytona International Speedway, when nearly half of a gargantuan field was wiped out in one devastating pileup. The fact that no one suffered anything more than minor injuries is truly amazing.

Watch it all unfold HERE.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

UPDATE: Kvapil Confirmed At Roush, Gilmore Says `No Deal' With RYR

Confirming what Sirius Speedway reported earlier today, Roush Racing has announced the signing of former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil to pilot the team’s #6 Ford F-150 in 2007.

Jack Roush announced the signing, saying, “We are pleased beyond measure that we were able to get a driver the caliber of Travis Kvapil. At only 30 years old with a truck championship and two years of Nextel Cup experience under his belt, Travis brings great long and short term potential for Roush Racing.”

The truck remains unsponsored at this moment, but Roush Racing president Geoff Smith says a sponsor announcement will likely follow. “Our sponsor prospects have been waiting for us to settle on the driver,” said Smith. “Now that Travis is on board, we expect to close on a sponsorship shortly.”

Updating this week’s other top story, Dale Earnhardt Inc. Vice President Richie Gilmore says rumors of DEI purchasing at least part of Robert Yates Racing have gotten out of hand. "Stories definitely grow in this sport, and maybe it's a slow time of the year with the Chase not being quite as tight as it should be,” he said. “I told Teresa Earnhardt that if (she) went to get a cup of coffee at 8 o'clock in the morning, by noontime she's going to buy a Starbucks.

"Right now, we're focused on getting Paul (Menard) ready for next year, and building our three organizations here at DEI.” Asked if there was any substance at all to reports of negotiations between DEI and Yates, Gilmore said simply, “"no."

Kvapil To Roush Racing #6 Truck, Crafton Favored For Busch Series Shot

Travis Kvapil will announce later this week that he will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season, driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Racing.

Kvapil has two races remaining on his one-year contract with PPI Motorsports, but team owner Cal Wells has been unable to land a sponsor to replace longtime backer Tide, prompting Kvapil to explore his options elsewhere. Appearing at a charity event last night in his native Winsconsin, Kvapil said, "Something should be happening within a couple days. All I can say right now is that this is the opportunity I've been hoping for my whole career. It's a chance to drive for a team that has a solid foundation."

Sirius Speedway has learned that Kvapil will replace Mark Martin in the #6 Ford F150, a truck that has won five times in just a dozen starts this season.

The 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Kvapil has five career Truck wins, but has struggled in two seasons of racing on the Nextel Cup circuit. He finished 33rd in points for Penske/Jasper Racing in 2005, before the No. 77 Kodak Dodge team shut down at season’s end. He then moved to PPI Motorsports this season, and currently ranks 36th in points with a best finish of 19th (three times). Of the PPI operation, Kvapil said, "We have a decently funded team, (but) I just don't want to go through the same thing I've been through this year."

In addition to steering the #6 Ford Truck, Kvapil may also drive a limited schedule of events in Nextel Cup and/or Busch Series action next season.

In other Truck Series news, Sirius Speedway has learned that Matt Crafton is the leading candidate to replace Kenny Wallace in the ppc Racing #22 Busch Series entry next season. Crafton, a native of Tulare, California, is currently 13th in NCTS points driving for ThorSport Racing, with four Top-Five and 10 Top-10 finishes. Wallace recently signed a contract with the Furniture Row Racing Nextel Cup team that will allow him to race on the Busch Series only with their permission.

Notes From All Over

Stepping Up: The final pass of the 2006 NHRA Powerade Drag Racing season will undoubtably be remembered as the single greatest pass in the history of the sport.

Not only did Tony Schumacher need to beat red-hot Melanie Troxel in Sunday’s Top Fuel final, but he had to do so while setting a new World Record with the quickest quarter-mile in drag racing history. Nothing less would allow him to steal the 2006 Top Fuel championship from Doug Kalitta.

Amazingly, Schumacher and crewchief Alan Johnson did exactly that; recording a 4.428- second run at 327.98 mph to beat Troxell and win the championship by a paltry 14 points, erasing a championship deficit that once stood at 336 points. Their gutsy final-round performance completed the greatest comeback in NHRA history, and gave the U.S. Army team its fourth NHRA World Top Fuel title, and third in a row.

Most teams would have wilted under the pressure of Sunday’s final round, overpowering the rear wheels and watching their flickering championship hopes go up in smoke. But Schumacher and Johnson aren’t “most teams.” Say what you want about the resources made available by Schumacher’s father, mega-team owner Don Schumacher. Say what you want about a semi-trained monkey being able to win races in Alan Johnson-prepared machinery. The bottom line is still the same. Schumacher and Johnson took on the best the NHRA had to offer – including a number of other teams with the best equipment and racing minds money can buy – and came away victorious.


Speaking Of The Army: Can there be any plausible explanation for MB2 Motorsports bumping the U.S. Army to associate sponsor status last weekend at Phoenix, in favor of Principal Financial Group? It was, after all, Veteran’s Day weekend; one of our few chances to say thank you to the men and women who have defended this country (and the collective freedom that we all take for granted) for so long.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it seems to me that if there was one weekend where the black and gold U.S. Army logo deserved to be on the side of Joe Nemechek’s #01 Chevrolet, last weekend was it.

Decision Time At RYR: Robert Yates spent most of last weekend dancing around reports that he may sell the #88 half of his two-car operation to Dale Earnhardt, Inc., later this week. Finally, just before the green flag flew over Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 in Phoenix, Yates revealed that while cutting-back to a one-car team is an option, his preference is to expand.

“We’re going to run a really good 38 team (next year),” said Yates. “We also have an opportunity to run a very good 88 team, and we’re looking at opportunities of growing it into four teams. I have looked at (selling), but I don’t think that’s going to be the deal. It’s going to be expanding, instead of getting rid of anything.

“Everybody will know as soon as we can get it all figured out, but it looks pretty good right now. Everybody needs to know where they’re headed when they come home from Homestead. That’s our agenda, and I think we can meet that timeline.”

No Surprise: To the surprise of absolutely no one, J.R. Todd was presented with the 2006 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award at the annual POWERade Series awards ceremony, recognizing him as NHRA drag racing’s Rookie of the Year.

Todd won three times and made four final-round appearances in the 2006 Top Fuel campaign, eventually finishing eighth in championship points despite running only a part-time schedule. He easily outdistanced fellow freshman Hillary Will, Alan Bradshaw and Max Naylor for the honor. Past winners of the Road to the Future Award include Brandon Bernstein, Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi, Doug Kalitta and the late Darrell Russell, and Todd will do nothing to lower the standards of that elite group.

Homestead Driver News: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his 255th career Nextel Cup Series start Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway; all of the with the sponsorship of Budweiser. The day before, he will make his first career start with Budweiser colors in the NASCAR Busch Series, running the familiar red Budweiser paint scheme for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Darrell Waltrip Motorsports will field a second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry this weekend for Michael Waltrip, who will run a #12 Jani-King sponsored Toyota Tundra at Homestead as a teammate to David Reutimann.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Villeneuve Out Of The Picture At Roush Racing; Changes Coming at Yates?

Jacques Villeneuve will almost certainly not be a part of the Roush Racing lineup next season.

Villeneuve had been negotiating with the team about a possible 2007 Busch Series schedule, but Roush Racing General Manager Geoff Smith said Saturday that there is only a remote chance of the former Formula One champion joining the team. "We're nowhere in that regard," he said. "There are general discussions that are going on, but I don't see us being able to make an arrangement to pull together a program. It's possible, but it's an outside shot given the timing of the year."

Sources tell Sirius Speedway that Villeneuve’s representatives have also been burning up the telephone lines to Robert Yates Racing, which has yet to name a driver for its #88 Ford next season. However, speculation in the Nextel Cup garage says Yates may actually be negotiating to sell the #88 half of his operation to Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

Yates refused to comment on the stories this weekend, but DEI's Steve Hmiel confirmed that talks have taken place to have DEI purchase the #88 from Yates, along with the 2006 owner points earned by Dale Jarrett. Team Red Bull has also reportedly made an offer to purchase the #88 from Yates, but Hmiel said DEI’s offer is for the entire operation; not just the number.

"We've heard Team Red Bull has made an offer to buy the number,” said Hmiel, “but we're not looking to buy just the number. If we can have more capacity, the number would be a bonus.”

A number of obstacles remain to be negotiated – including conflicting manufacturer commitments to Ford (RYR) and Chevrolet (DEI), but if a deal can be struck, Yates would be left with only David Gilliland’s #38 next season. RYR has fielded two teams on a full-time basis since 1996. Yates refused all comment on the matter Saturday, saying only that he has four different options to choose from. He admitted that fielding a single car is on his list of options, and sources say a decision on whether to sell the #88 to DEI must be made by Tuesday.

Montoya To Make Cup Debut at Homestead Next Weekend

Sirius Speedway has learned that Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will announce later this week that Juan Pablo Montoya will make his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series debut next weekend, in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Chip Ganassi told the media today that he has confidence in Montoya's ability to run the race, but wants to make sure the proper infrastructure is in place before making the final call. "Before we do this, I want to be sure we can get him on and off pitroad effectively. We need to have a team in place to prepare and service the car well. This whole thing has happened pretty quickly, and the last thing I want to do is embarrass Juan and ourselves by moving too fast."

Sources tell Sirius Speedway that two options are currently under consideration for Montoya at Homestead. The first would have him behind the wheel of a new #30 Dodge, while the second would be to have him drive the #42 Texaco Havoline Dodge usually wheeled by Casey Mears, with Mears moving to the #30.

Montoya has made three NASCAR Busch Series starts in recent weeks, including a 20th place finish yesterday here at Phoenix that saw him run in the Top-12 for most of the day, before a pitstop miscue and a late spin dropped him to 20th at the finish. On one of his final pitstops, Montoya appeared to stop too close to the pit wall, causing his team to struggle changing left-side tires. He then suffered through a slolo spin in the first turn, followed by minor damage in an incident that sidelined fellow Open Wheel star Sam Hornish, Jr.

After the race, Montoya was less-than-impressed with the backmarkers in the Busch Series, saying, "It's tough passing these guys -- they seem like they don't see you, they just sort of play dumb.

"When you run up front, the guys run a lot cleaner, a lot smarter. The guys in the back are just too dumb. I'm trying to keep the car in one piece and its very hard, because, yes, I am a rookie -- but no, I am not a rookie. I have probably more experience (than anyone) in this grade. I've driven more things than anybody here. I am being smart, I am trying not to cause any wrecks or anything, but it's got to stop."

Ganassi is also expected to announce that the William Wrigley Jr. Co. -- makers of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum -- will serve as Montoya's primary sponsor for three Nextel Cup races next season, and as an associate backer on Montoya's #42 Texaco Havoline Dodge in the other 33 events.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Force, Capps Talk About Funny Car Title Chase Today

Two of the NHRA's three Funny Car championship contenders will join us live today to talk about this weekend's season-ending "Auto Club NHRA Finals" in Pomona, California. Thirteen-time Powerade World Champion John Force and perennial title contender Ron Capps will appear in our second hour today, to talk about the season-long battle for the championship, the pressure of this weekend's race, and their mutual respect for one another.

Force comes to Pomona with a 71-point edge over Capps and a 73-point advantage over teammate (and son-in-law) Robert Hight in his quest for a fourteenth NHRA World Championship. A year ago, Force and Capps faced a nearly identical situation, entering the season's final race in a razor close, three-man battle with eventual champion Gary "Wild Thing" Scelzi.

We will also get an overview of the Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle championship pictures with's Chief Editor, Rob Geiger. Jason Line clinched the Pro Stock title two weeks ago in Las Vegas, unseating three-time consecutive titlist Greg Anderson.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Loyal listener Bill Rice spreads the word on SPEED. Thanks Bill, you're our listener of the week!

Notes From All Over

Capps Unhurt In Famoso Crash: NHRA Funny Car title contender Ron Capps was uninjured Saturday when a nostalgia Funny Car he was driving went out of control and slammed a concrete barrier at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

Driving Ron Gaynor's Hard Times Dodge Charger, Capps launched into a spectacular wheelstand as he left the starting line, then slammed back to the ground and veered into the wall. Capps downplayed the crash, saying, “I'm just bummed for Gaynor. He's one of the pioneers in this class, and we wanted to get into the five-second club.”

Capps had run a 6.00 second ET in his previous pass. He trails John Force by 71 points with one race to go in the 2006 Powerade season.

No Appeal Of Curione Penalty: Valvoline Evernham Racing says it will not appeal the $10,000 fine and indefinite suspension handed down yesterday to crewman Craig Curione for pushing Kevin Harvick in the aftermath of last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Designated Team Owner James Rocco announced the decision, saying, “After a comprehensive internal review of the post-race incident between Kevin Harvick and a member of the No. 10 team, Valvoline Evernham Racing supports NASCAR's decision to indefinitely suspend the involved crew member. We apologize to Kevin and DeLana Harvick, NASCAR, our partners and our fans for this incident. The behavior demonstrated by the involved crewmember was in violation of the Valvoline Evernham Racing Employee Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated. We concur with NASCAR's ruling and will not appeal the suspension or fine.”

Rocco did not say whether Curione will remain with the team.

Wimmer To RCR: Look for Scott Wimmer to run a combined NASCAR Nextel Cup/Busch Series schedule next season for Richard Childress Racing, with sponsorship from Holiday Inn.
Sources close to the team say Wimmer has signed to drive for the team in 2007, with an official announcement to be made at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend.

Holiday Inn’s official website currently includes a photo of the #29 Holiday Inn Busch car – driven this season by Jeff Burton – with a “mystery driver” silhouette and the words, "November 19: The Last Race, A Cup Debut, A New Teammate."

Wimmer has reportedly tested for RCR in recent weeks, and has watched at least one recent Nextel Cup race.from atop one of Childress’ transporters. You can check out the Holiday Inn website by clicking HERE.

Borland To Team Red Bull: Despite recent assertions by Penske Racing South President Don Miller that he expects to have crewchiefs Matt Borland and Roy McCauley back in-house next season, sources tell Sirius Speedway that Borland may already have accepted a position with the new Team Red Bull Toyota operation.

In fact, Borland may not be atop Ryan Newman’s pitbox this weekend in Phoenix. If he does not make the trip, he will be replaced by team engineer Mike Nelson.

Rahal Letterman Driver Announcements: Officials of Rahal-Letterman Racing will participate in an Indy Racing League teleconference Thursday at 2 PM Eastern Time, to make what they are calling “a team announcement.”

Rahal-Letterman has two empty racecars at present, in the aftermath of the departures of Danica Patrick – who jumped to Andretti-Green Racing – and Buddy Rice, who appears to be moving to the rival Champ Car World Series.

There has been some speculation that Thursday’s announcement will concern a move to the rival Champ Car World Series, but the press conference has been organized and promoted by the IRL, making such a move unlikely.

And On A Personal Note: Congrats to MRN Radio pit reporter (and amateur rental car stunt driver) Adam Alexander and his wife, Audra, who celebrated the birth of son Kade Ashton Alexander Tuesday afternoon. Kade took his sweet time arriving, but now joins big sister Kyla in the Alexander household. Both baby and mom are doing fine, Dad's a little shaky, as usual.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Riggs Crewman To Be Suspended Indefinitely For Harvick Push

Sirius Speedway has learned that NASCAR will announce later today that it has indefinitely suspended Craig "C.C." Curione, the front tire carrier for Scott Riggs' No. 10 Dodge, for his role in a postrace altercation Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Curione was identified as the member of Riggs' Evernham Motorsports crew who shoved Kevin Harvick from behind while he and his wife, DeLana, were walking to the infield media center following the Dickies 500. The Harvicks and NASCAR official John Sacco all fell, landing in the path of the No. 10 team's war wagon, which hit Sacco and left him with a sprained ankle. The Harvicks were not hurt.

Spokesman Kerry Tharp said earlier today, "NASCAR has been looking into this postrace incident since it occurred. It's something we take very seriously. An announcement regarding a course of action could come as early as Tuesday."

A spokeswoman for Evernham Motorsports said the team has cooperated with NASCAR's investigation, and will have no comment until a final determination has been made.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gordon Fined, Docked Points For Atlanta Debris Incident

Robby Gordon has been fined and issued points penalties for infractions during Sunday’s NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon has been fined $15,000, penalized 50 driver and 50 car owner points, and placed on probation by NASCAR until Dec. 31. NASACR says Gordon violated Sections 12-4-N (intentionally causing a caution condition during the race) – of the NASCAR Rule Book. In addition, crewchief Greg Erwin has been fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. NASCAR’s Ramsey Poston.