Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Caterpillar To RCR In 2009

With AT&T set to leave the sport at the end of the season, Richard Childress Racing has wasted little time finding a replacement.

RCR announced today that Caterpillar will serve as primary sponsor for the #31 Chevrolet and driver Jeff Burton, after signing a multi-year contract earlier this week. Caterpillar has been a major sponsor in NASCAR for 17 years; most recently with Bill Davis Racing and the #22 Toyota driven by Dave Blaney.

Burton has made the "Chase for the Championship" in each of the past two seasons, finishing seventh in 2006 and eighth last year. He is currently second in points with one win, four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.

Newman Says Performance Must Improve: Ryan Newman said yesterday that he will revisit his latest contract offer from Penske Racng later in the season, but will not return to the team unless the performance of his #12 Dodge improves significantly.

Newman began the season in encouraging fashion, winning the season-opening Daytona 500. But the team has struggled since then, managing only four more Top-10 finishes, and finishing outside the Top-30 four times, as well.

“It’s a performance issue,” said Newman, who is reportedly in the running for the new, fourth entry at Richard Childress Racing next season. He could also be a candidate to replace Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing, if Stewart opts out of the final year of his contract.

Speaking of Stewart, his longtime crewchief, Greg Zipadelli, contnues to keep the uncertainty surrounding his driver at arm’s length. Zipadelli has said he believes Stewart already knows where he will race next season, but that he has not shared that decision with anyone.

The two-time champion crewchief said he is trying, "not to get wrapped up in…questioning about the unknown. When that comes, I'll worry about it. Right now, I need to worry about me, my guys, my family, this race team and being in the Top-12 in points."

Zipadelli’s contract with JGR would allow him to accompany Stewart to another team, but sources say he may elect to remain with Gibbs, opting for the security of a long-term contract with an established, championship-caliber team.

Harvick On COT: Kevin Harvick had some pointed comments last weekend for drivers who continue to complain about the comparatively ill-handling Car Of Tomorrow.

"Sure the car doesn't drive like it (did) a couple of years ago,” he said. “But this car was not intended to drive like the ones a couple of years ago. We were supposed to put more of the driver capability back in (their) hands. If you go back a year and a half or two years ago, a lot of the guys just wanted to keep putting downforce in the car…so they could hold the thing wide open. That's never been what NASCAR racing is all about. If they want something they can hold wide open, they need to go race IndyCars and ride around in a pack like that."

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