Friday, August 31, 2007

Oops, He Did It Again; Busch Confirms JGR Move To Toyota In 2008

Look at it this way, Kyle Busch may have saved his new team a lot of money.
There’s no need to invite a bunch of reporters to the Joe Gibbs Racing shops next Wednesday, no need to roll out the complimentary food and drinks, and no need to print up a bunch of pesky press releases.

Shrubby took care of all that today, confirming to a group of stunned media members here at California Speedway what is not scheduled to be officially announced until next week; that JGR will switch manufacturers from Chevrolet to Toyota next season.

"I feel fine with it," said Busch, declining to dance around an issue that has made him and the entire JGR operation look like the Ritz Brothers over the last 30 days. While team officials were still quoting the official “we don’t anticipate making any announcements this weekend” company line – Busch let the biggest cat in NASCAR out of the bag.

"I think it's something that's going to take Joe Gibbs Racing hopefully a step forward in the right direction,” he said. “They've got a great repertoire for being able to produce winning race cars and championship-contending teams, year in and year out, so I think they're going to be just fine.

“This is a business decision that they've done right."

Busch said he is confident the horsepower issues that have plagued Toyota this season can be solved, with JGR’s head engine builder, Mark Cronquist, leading the effort.

"I've met with him a few times, (and) he's a really cool guy,” said Busch. “When we were talking about Toyota, they brought him in because I had a bunch of questions about the motor. They've got the power, but don't have bottom-end. Mark (said) they feel like the package they've had (with) Chevrolet…can translate to Toyota, and hopefully have a pretty good piece come January."

Note to J.D. Gibbs: you can cancel the finger sandwiches.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

360 OTC Headed To Court Again

The company that distributes 360 OTC is the target of a third motorsports-related lawsuit this week, after Dirt Motor Sports -- sanctioning body for the World of Outlaws -- filed suit alleging that Rockford-Montgomery Labs failed to pay for its title sponsorship of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

The three-year deal was supposed to be worth #4.8 million; $1.5 million this year, $1.6 million next season and $1.7 million in 2009. According to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia, Rockford-Montgomery Labs has not paid for the sponsorship, with an initial check for $150,000 bouncing in February.

Rockford-Montgomery is already being sued for non-payment by the company contracted to manage its motorsports marketing program, and by Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which is suing over a $10.1 million sponsorship deal signed in June of 2006 for the 2007 season. Rockford-Montgomery Labs backed out of that contract, saying that Morgan-McClure’s inability sign a driver left it with insufficient time to prepare promotional materials.

Bill Davis Racing team owner Bill Davis told Sirius Speedway earlier this week that he does not expect 360 OTC to return as a sponsor next season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Junior By The Numbers

Hendrick Motorsports has applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for potential use of five numbers next season for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The numbers under consideration are #38, #51, #81, #82 and #58. Filing with Patent and Trademark Office does not guarantee NASCAR approval to use any of those numbers, but does prevent an outside party from trademarking the specific font and graphic package used by Hendrick on its racecars, diecast collectibles and souvenirs.

Hendrick filed for the #81 on July 25th, with the most recent filing being for the #38 on August 9th. There have been reports that Hendrick is attempting to strike a deal with Robert Yates Racing for the #38 next season, but my sources tell me that the deal is not likely to happen.

Villeneuve Anxious For NASCAR Debut: Canadian Jacques Villeneuve says he needs a new challenge, and NASCAR is it.

"I need to do something at an extremely high level, which NASCAR is, but something different," said the former F1 World Champion. "I didn't look at IRL or Champ Car. I only concentrated on NASCAR. After Formula One, you want it to be at a top level. And in North America, the top level is NASCAR.”

Like Juan Pablo Montoya before him, Villeneuve says he is convinced that NASCAR is the correct move, despite negative feedback from the F1 community.

"It's really hard to explain to European fans, because in their mind (NASCAR is) only two corners," he said. "It looks like it's easy driving, flat out and that's it. What they don't realize is there is a lot of fine-tuning to do on the car. (There is a lot more) driving in traffic, a lot more than in open wheel racing where a lot happens at the start, and that's about it. Just watching it on TV won't give you the whole picture."

Villeneuve said he expects to have to earn the respect of the NASCAR veterans, and has been an interested observer of Montoya’s sometimes tumultuous indoctrination to the sport.

“Montoya was like that in Formula One; extremely aggressive and got on people's nerves," he said. "I guess he kept the same personality going into NASCAR. Once he settles in, it will be all right. He's driving hard, he's fast, and he's making a name for himself. Now he's earning respect, so that's fine. If and when I get in there, I'll figure it out."

Villeneuve will make his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 22nd, and will run the final seven races of the season in a Bill Davis Racing Toyota, with an eye toward the 2008 Daytona 500.

"Not So Fast" For Speed: While Villeneuve appears to be on NASCAR's fast track, the road from Formula One to NASCAR Nextel Cup may be longer than expected for American Scott Speed.

The 24-year old Speed is being projected as the latest Open Wheel driver to jump to stock cars, but sources close to the situation say a lack of oval course experience may prevent him from making the move as soon as expected.

Team Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has said he is interested in helping Speed – either by expanding his Nextel Cup team to three cars, or with sponsorship – but NASCAR has stringent guidelines that must be met before any driver is approved for competition. The sanctioning body is believed unlikely to approve Speed for even a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride, without at least a few oval track starts on his resume.

Team Red Bull Director of Competition Elton Sawyer said this week that both Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger will return in 2008, with Speed as more of a long-term project. “Our two drivers will be back," he said. “Scott Speed is a Red Bull athlete, which means we'll do whatever we can to introduce him to this form of racing. But I don't think you'll see him in a Cup car with our team next year."

Braun To Make ARCA Debut: Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series star Colin Braun will drive in Friday night's ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Gateway International Speedway, steering a #99 Ford Fusion fielded by Roush Fenway Racing.

The 18-year old Braun became the youngest driver to win a major North American motorsports event when he steered a Krohn Racing Daytona Prototype to victory in the Brumos 250 at Daytona International Speedway, and became the youngest podium finisher in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 with a second-place finish earlier this season.

Braun recently signed long-term contracts with Roush Fenway Racing and Ford, and will compete in selected ARCA events this season, before contesting the full ARCA schedule in 2008.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Facts Don't Lie

Some of the more jaded members of NASCAR Nation have spent the last 48 hours bemoaning what they saw as a non-competitive “Sharpie 500” at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night.

David Poole, the esteemed and generally grumpy co-host of Sirius NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive," spent four hours on his soapbox this morning, calling the race one of the worst he has ever seen at Bristol. He lamented the fact that there was just one pass for the lead Saturday night -- that coming when a dominant Carl Edwards took over from an almost-as-dominant Kasey Kahne on lap 371 -- conveniently ignoring the veritable smorgasbord of side-by-side racing that took place throughout the field, throughout the night.

If you're interested, you can get Poole's side of the story HERE. If not, suffice it to say that my friend Poole (and others like him, judging from the Monday morning internet chat rooms) somehow missed all the two and three-wide battling that took place at Thunder Valley Saturday night, apparently unable to concentrate without the constant sensory bombardment of a multi-car pileup every 8-12 laps.

They went to Bristol expecting the WWE to break out, as it usually does. Instead, they were forced to watch a darned good, side-by-side stock car race. And they're none too happy about it, believe me.

For all its volume, however, the "boring race" argument doesn't hold any water.

A quick look at NASCAR’s Loop Data -- compiled and released to the media after every Nextel Cup race -- reveals that a total of 2,147 green flag passes took place Saturday night. That compares to just 991 passes in the "Food City 500" there earlier this spring. For the mathematically impaired like myself, that's a 108-percent increase in green-flag passing from spring to fall.

108 freakin' percent.

Back in the spring, Kevin Harvick started 40th and finished fourth at Bristol, passing a race-best total of 52 cars along the way; more than anyone else on the track. That total would have tied him for 18th Saturday night, far behind J.J. Yeley's race-high total of 107.

Sorry folks, but the facts don't lie. Saturday night's race was a good one, despite offering up "only" eight caution flags for the demolition derby set to enjoy. The packed Bristol grandstands may not have had a dastardly "dump and run" winner to boo when it was over, but that does not mean they didn't see a good race.

Fourth-place finisher Tony Stewart -- frequently second only to Poole on the list of NASCAR insiders most in need of a bran muffin -- said of Saturday's race, “It’s the most fun I've had at Bristol in my career. I can't give it a better grade than an A-plus."

If it's good enough for Tony, it's good enough for me.

Dale Jr.: Get Off My Stepmom!

Just days after expressing his displeasure with his stepmother, DEI team owner Teresa Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., said this weekend that fans need to cut her some slack.

Last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. criticized his stepmother, saying he was “not all that surprised" that a deal could not be reached to transfer his familiar #8 to Hendrick Motorsports next season. "She either feels too personal about the number, or the rift between me and her is too personal," he said. "It's upsetting as hell and unfortunate, but that's just what happens sometimes. I knew I wasn't going to get the number a long time ago."

Earnhardt Jr. called Teresa’s demands “just ridiculous,” adding, "Maybe it's sort of a blessing in disguise to make a clean break. If I was to get the #8 and allow Teresa to still have control over it, I would still have to deal with it. That is not what I wanted. I have to let it go."

Earnhardt tempered his comments Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, however, saying, “It’s about time to give Teresa a break. She makes the decision on the number, because she owns it. And as much as I am disappointed and frustrated over the fact that I don't get to keep driving the #8, the stuff I read on the internet --the remarks about her -- I don't think anybody deserves that.

“If people just take a step back and look, she hasn't done anything intentionally that is detrimental to me. I have a good future. I have a good opportunity in my hands. She is doing what she needs to do. I think everybody needs to lay off a little bit, because she was married to my Daddy, and I know he wouldn't be too happy about…what is being said about her.

“It bothers me a little bit,” said Earnhardt. “I hate to see somebody crucified on the internet like Teresa has. It is just hard-core, man. People have been really, really rude, and really over the line -- way over the line -- on some of the things that have been said. Nobody deserves that, and it just isn't fair.”

In a related story, SPEED's Bob Dilner reported yesterday that Robert Yates Racing has asked NASCAR for permission to transfer its #38 to Hendrick Motorsports next season, for Earnhardt Jr. to drive. If approved, the transfer would allow Earnhardt to combine his current #8 with his father’s legendary #3.

There has been no confirmation of the report from either Yates or Hendrick, and no word on what number David Gilliland would use in 2008. Robert Yates Racing still has the rights to the #28, which it has not used since 2002.

Hornish To Ramp Up NASCAR Effort: Roger Penske said Saturday that Sam Hornish Jr. will run at least half of this season’s final 10 Nextel Cup Series races, as a prelude to a possible Rookie of the Year bid in 2008.

Hornish's first Cup race will likely come at New Hampshire International Speedway on September 16th, one week after the 2007 IRL IndyCar season finale. Penske said, "That's the game plan right now. Obviously, he's got to qualify, but he did a good job at Michigan, and if there is a chance to run every week, we'll see. I told him the more experience you get the better you're going to be.”

Haas Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud: Haas CNC Racing owner Gene Haas has pleaded guilty to what the Internal Revenue Service called “deceptive and elaborate tax evasion schemes” that defrauded the government of $34.3 million in taxes.

Haas, who also owns Haas Automation, the nation’s largest machine tool manufacturer, changed his plea to guilty today, agreeing to serve a two-year jail term and pay a $5 million fine, fraud penalties of 40% and interest amounting to more than $70 million. The plea deal must still be approved by a Federal District Court judge.

Haas CNC Racing General Manager Joe Custer is now listed as the owner of the teams.

Villeneuve To BDR #36?: Bill Davis Racing General Manager Mike Brown confirmed this weekend that 1997 Formula One World Driving Champion Jacques Villeneuve is the leading candidate to replace Jeremy Mayfield in the team’s #36 Nextel Cup Toyota next season.

Villeneuve will undertake a six-week test program, with plans to take part in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and ARCA events at Talladega in October.

“That’s what we hope to do, (and) that’s what he feels like he’d like to do,” said Brown of Villneuve’s Nextel Cup aspirations. “Obviously, the whole NASCAR program is new to him, so we’re going to put together an aggressive test program for him. Obviously, he’s got to go through the validation process with NASCAR, so we’re looking at places we can run him in trucks, maybe in the ARCA series. (It will be) an aggressive test program, not only with the trucks, but with the COT.”

Brown said 360 OTC is not expected to return as sponsor next season, and team owner Bill Davis said he is still working on a sponsorship deal for Villeneuve. "It's not that hard to build racecars, said Davis. "It's getting them funded that's the hard part." Davis will joins us on Sirius Speedway to discuss his plans for 2008 today (Monday) at 3:40 p.m. ET.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Villeneuve To Test Craftsman Truck For Bill Davis Racing Monday

Former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will test a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra fielded by Bill Davis Racing Monday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Villeneuve has not competed on an oval course since 1995, his final season in the CART Series. He jumped to Formula One the following year, winning four races and finishing second in the driver's championship to Williams teammate Damon Hill. He won the World Driving Championship in 1997, besting Michael Schumacher in a controversial final round at Spain's Jerez circuit. He ran for BAR, Renault and BMW-Sauber in subsequent seasons, but was never again able to approach his 1997 success. He was released by BMW at the midpoint of last season in favor of Robert Kubica.

The 36-year old has competed only sporadically since then, most notably driving for Peugeot in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The former CART and Indy 500 winner said of his new deal, “Bill Davis Racing was aware of my interest in NASCAR, and approached my management team (about) allowing me to test within its truck program. I’m glad we were able to work that out, and I am really looking forward to working with Bill and his staff. We have spent the last few months considering a number of NASCAR options, and we’re in agreement that the truck offers the closest reference point to the Car of Tomorrow.”

Burton Traveling Incognito At Bristol

Jeff Burton was sponsor-free at Bristol Motor Speedway today, rolling through inspection and practice without any sponsor logos on his orange-and-black #31 Chevrolet.

There was no identification of either AT&T or Cingular Wireless on the car this morning, after AT&T were unable to come to agreement on a logo package that would satisfy both parties. The #31 Chevrolet arrived at the track in a plain black hauler, and crewmembers wore gray Richard Childress Racing shirts instead of their usual AT&T uniforms. Burton wore an orange driver's suit with only associate sponsor logos.

NASCAR ordered that AT&T signage be removed from the car after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous decision allowing the team to display the AT&T logo until a lawsuit to settle the issue can be heard. AT&T will reportedly file a new injunction later today, asking for a court hearing in early September.

Team owner Richard Childress said he expects Burton to run tomorrow night’s race without the AT&T globe -- or any other cellular company identification -- on his quarterpanels. He made it clear, however, that he is not happy with the situation.

“My take on the whole thing is we've been here 14 weeks with AT&T," he said. "We've both lived together. The world isn't coming to an end. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we can figure out how we can all live by the same rules. Cingular was our sponsor, and we've got to do everything we can to keep them in the sport. Hopefully, something will come to a happy ending. Or maybe not happy. None of us may like it, but we can all live with it."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Scott Speed To NASCAR?

Fired Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed may attempt to follow in the footsteps of Juan Pablo Montoya by undertaking a career in NASCAR.

Speed – until recently the only American driver on the Formula One grid – got the axe earlier this season from team bosses Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger for lack of performance, despite posting better numbers than teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi. Now, the 24-year old is being hyped for a possible NASCAR career by no less than Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz.

Mateschitz told a prominent German motorsports publication that NASCAR could be a good fit for the California native, saying, “Speed drove in Formula One against the world's best drivers. He is courageous, and his name is a marketer's dream. With a cowboy hat, it is perhaps complete. He would be an asset for us in NASCAR."

Mateschitz owns the Team Red Bull NASCAR Nextel Cup Series operation, fielding Toyota Camrys for Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger. He did not say whether he is considering a third Nextel Cup entry, or whether Red Bull would merely contribute financial and sponsorship support to Speed’s effort.

Red Bull Director of Motorsports Helmut Marko confirmed this week that the company is interested in assisting Speed’s jump to NASCAR, saying that informal discussions are underway with at least one unnamed team. “NASCAR is a very special form of racing,” said Marko. “Even a guy like Montoya, with all his F1 experience and his Champ Car racing on ovals, can’t just jump in and be competitive. So they may look at some Busch races, and if that is going well, (move) him up to the Nextel Cup.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Red Army" Running Out Of Time...And Excuses

These are dark days indeed for the inhabitants of Earnhardt Nation.

Their hero, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is leaving the team his late father built to join the hated Hendrick Motorsports empire. It’s the auto racing equivalent of Ernie Banks signing a free-agent deal with the White Sox, and many members of Earnhardt’s “Red Army” still have not come to terms with it.

Last week, they were bitterly disappointed when negotiations broke down between Hendrick and DEI that would have allowed Junior to take his venerated #8 with him when he goes. Junior reacted angrily, accusing stepmother/DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt of personal pettiness and greed. Earnhardt Nation went even further off the deep end, reacting as if Teresa had been accused of illegal dogfighting, rather than simply exercising her rights as a team owner.

And now, this.

Yesterday in the Irish Hills of Michigan, Earnhardt, Jr.’s hopes of qualifying for NASCAR’s “Chase For The Nextel Cup” suffered a crushing blow when he overshot his pit stall on a late-race pitstop, turning what appeared to be a sure top-five run into a shocking, 12th-place finish. He now stands a whopping 163 points out of the Chase with only three races to go, and his chances of making the post-season dance are twofold: slim and none.

Yes, “Little E” is still alive mathematically. Realistically, though, he’s a longshot, at best.

Earnhardt is struggling to finish races these days, while Busch -– the man he has to catch -- is winning them. Earnhardt must gain an average of 55 points per race on Busch in their next three starts, including Saturday night’s “Sharpie 500” at Bristol Motor Speedway. In 13 career Bristol starts, Busch has five wins. Earnhardt has only one victory in 15 attempts.

Simply put, it’s not looking good for the leader of the Red Army and his loyal foot soldiers. They’re running out of time, and also excuses.

Until Earnhardt forgot his parking space Tuesday afternoon, his followers had a convenient explanation for their sudden fade from title contention. Two crippling engine failures in the last three weeks offered incontrovertible proof that Teresa Earnhardt and the DEI engine shop were conspiring to knock NASCAR’s favorite son from the championship picture, while simultaneously elevating teammate Martin Truex, Jr., to #1 contender status. Yesterday, however, Junior shot himself in the foot, leaving Earnhardt Nation to face the distinct possibility of missing the Chase for the second time in three seasons, with nobody else to blame.

Worse of all, Earnhardt’s late-season swoon has coincided with an equally dramatic surge in fortune for rival Busch. As the Budweiser Chevrolet and its perennial Most Popular Driver go down in flames, the Miller Lite Dodge and its considerably less-beloved wheelman are rising from the ashes like a phoenix. Three weeks from now, Busch will likely be chasing his second Nextel Cup, while Junior will be bubbling about his 2008 prospects at Hendrick Motorsports.

It’s enough to make any self-respecting Junior Fan do a half-gainer from a tenth story window.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Photos From Here And There

Haas Automation's new "Rolling Road" wind tunnel, which simulates actual track conditions. Don't ask, you can't afford it.

Some listeners have asked about the old GATR (Great American Truck Racers) Series that ran in the mid- to late-1970s. Here's a shot of Ervin Carpenter's sharp #76 GMC at Pocono Raceway, courtesy of listener Lance Muscara.

E.J. Utley belches smoke as he accelerates off a turn.

Pennsylvania's Bob Bolus came to grief in a hard GATR crash at Pocono. Right-front tire failures plagued the series.

Did anyone notice the "DEI E-stripes" on Regan Smith's US Army Chevrolet at Watkins Glen? Here's a look, for those who missed it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No Surprise, Shrub Signs With JGR

Joe Gibbs Racing has signed Kyle Busch to drive for the #18 Nextel Cup Series team, beginning in 2008. Busch will take over for J.J. Yeley at the end of the 2007 season, racing as a teammate to Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.

Team President J.D. Gibbs announced the signing, saying, “We’re extremely pleased to have Kyle Busch as a part of the family here at Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle is extremely talented, as his track record has proven, and he had a lot of teams to choose from in determining who would give him the best chance to win. Obviously, we’re glad he chose JGR, and he’ll have all the tools and resources he needs to win races and contend for championships.”

Busch said he is confident that he has made the right decision, after talking to as many as five top Nextel Cup teams. “After talking with a lot of different teams and visiting their shops, Joe Gibbs Racing is where I want to be,” said Busch, who signed a three-year contract, running through the 2010 season. “The moment I saw the shop and began talking with Joe and J.D. Gibbs, there was a level of comfort that made me feel like this is where I belong. I want to win races and championships, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s three-car/one-team philosophy gives me the best opportunity to do that.”

He stressed, however, that there is still work to do in his final 14 races for Hendrick Motorsports, saying, "While excited about my new opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing, I remain committed to finishing this year strong and running for the championship.”

There was no mention made of reports that JGR will switch to Toyota in 2008.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Notes From A Crazy Day At The Glen

Fight?!? I didn't see any fight!

Sunday's dust-up between Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya at Watkins Glen could aptly be called a confrontation, maybe even a shoving match. But a fight?

I don't think so.

I've seen plenty of fights; even taken part in a couple, back in my younger days. And every fight I've ever seen included at least one bonafide attempt to inflict bodily harm on another individual. Neither of yesterday's combatants seemed remotely interested in harming anyone. Any fight worth its salt also requires at least one actual blow to be struck, something that did not occur in yesterday's Harvick/Montoya square dance. What I saw -- admittedly from a distance -- was two drivers expressing their displeasure with each other, while attempting to decipher what the other guy was yelling through his helmet.

That's not a fight, that's a conversation with hand signals. NASCAR's John Darby had it exactly right when he said of the tiff, "I thought it was cool as hell."

"I got run over," said Harvick afterward. "I guess (Truex) ran over the 42. I just hate it. I'm frustrated with the No. 42. It just seems like he runs over somebody every week. I was talking about kicking his ass, because that's how I felt about it."

As expected, Montoya had a different take, saying, "I went to the inside to defend the No. 1 car, and he spun me from behind. When he spun me, I got backward into the 29. (Harvick) got out of the car, came out disrespectful, saying all kinds of things, grabbed me - and I don't appreciate that.

"I'll say 'I'm sorry,' when it's my fault, but when it's not my fault, I don't want him to come over and push me like that."

Making It Official: A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow morning to confirm what Sirius Speedway first told you more than a week ago, that Kyle Busch will be the new driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 car next season. Team president J.D. Gibbs confirmed the announcement yesterday, saying, “Before I say anything I want to have a done deal. Right now, we feel good about it and the direction we're going." Gibbs said Interstate Batteries will remain as at least an associate sponsor next season, but said additional backing could be added.

DEI Driver Search: The DEI driver search is now in full swing, as the team seeks a new driver to replace the departing Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

DEI had hoped to land Busch, but their attention has now shifted to a short list of drivers said to include Greg Biffle, Regan Smith, J.J. Yeley and David Reutimann. Biffle remains under contract with Roush Fenway Racing through next season, so any deal with him would have to include a buyout of his present deal. Reutimann is unable to talk officially to any other team until his one-year contract with Michael Waltrip Racing expires at the end of the year. Mark Martin is reportedly lobbying his new bosses hard for Smith, while Yeley said this weekend that he is talking to a number of teams about next season, including DEI. Martin could also be moved to the #8 Chevrolet along with part-timer Aric Almirola, with the new driver taking over the US Army #01.

Childress On Gibbs: "They're Gone": At least two fellow Chevrolet team owners say they now expect Joe Gibbs Racing to jump to the Toyota camp next season. Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said of Gibbs, “I'd say they're gone.”

Richard Childress said he also believes JGR’s departure is imminent. In his words, "It's pretty well written in stone." As a result, Childress said he no longer feels comfortable sharing information with Gibbs at Thursday's monthly partner’s meeting in Detroit. “We’re not going to discuss with them…things that we normally would discuss openly,” he said. “(We’re) working on stuff for next year, and we don't want them to take that and help out the competition."

DEI Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said, “If they're as far down the road as we're hearing, they should come up with an excuse (not to attend.) They're a very classy group. If they're that far down the road, I wouldn't expect them to show up."

Gilmore said the timing of Gibbs’ move is especially bad, adding, “We just developed a new engine, and all that technology is gone to another competitor.”

Wood Brothers To Top 35: It was “mission accomplished” for Boris Said and Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, after Said replaced Bill Elliott yesterday and drove the Little Debbie Ford to a 14th-place finish in the Centurion Boats at the Glen. That finish pushed the team to past Dave Blaney’s Bill Davis Racing/Caterpillar Toyota team and into the Top 35 in owners points, giving them a guaranteed starting spot this weekend at Michigan. Blaney finished a lap down in 35th, and now trails the No. 21 by 37 points in the owner’s standings.

Monday, August 06, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Busch To JGR, Gibbs To Toyota, Yeley To Join Wood Brothers, Carpentier In #10 Dodge at Glen

Kyle Busch has decided where he will race next season, after agreeing to drive the #18 Interstate Batteries machine in 2008 and beyond. Informed sources tell Sirius Speedway that that Busch will replace J.J. Yeley, and that Yeley will move to Wood Brothers/JTG Racing next season to steer the #21 Ford Fusion. Yeley’s agent, Kyle Chapman, said there is currently no signed deal between his client and Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, and that Yeley is in discussion with a number of teams about possible rides for next season.

In addition, JGR will jump from the Chevrolet to the Toyota camp beginning in 2008, joining Michael Waltrip Racing, Bill Davis Racing and Team Red Bull on the list of teams running Toyota Camrys. Neither Busch nor Joe Gibbs Racing have made any official comment on the move, but published reports say that Gibbs officials have informed Hall of Fame Racing that they will not continue to provide the team with engines next season, prompting Hall Of Fame to contact Richard Childress Racing about a similar engine-supply deal for 2008. HOF spokesman Joe Crowley said today that there is no truth to those reports.

And finally, Canadian Patrick Carpentier will be announced tomorrow morning as the driver of Gillett-Evernham Racing's #10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge this weekend at Watkins Glen. Carpentier will replace Scott Riggs on a one-race basis.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So Funny, We Wish We Had Thought Of It Ourselves!

Check out this link to the ULTIMATE explanation of NASCAR driving technique. Do Tim Brewer and ESPN know about this???