Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yeley Out, Coleman In At HOF; Kentucky Speedway Sale Now In Doubt

Hall of Fame Racing has announced that NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Coleman will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry on Aug. 17th at Michigan International Speedway. Coleman replaces J.J. Yeley, who has been released by the team. P.J. Jones will drive the No. 96 Toyota this weekend at Watkins Glen.

Tom Garfinkel, co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing, said of the move, “J.J. is a talented race car driver and a great person, and this was a difficult decision to make. We all share responsibility that our performance hasn’t been what it needs to be, but we concluded it was time to make a change. This is a performance-based industry and we need to perform better.”

Yeley ranked 36th in points with just one Top-5 finish in 17 starts this season; a third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June. The No. 96 team has fallen out of the top 35 in owners points -- currently standing 38th -- and Yeley has failed to qualify for four races. The 20-year-old Coleman currently ranks 16th in the Nationwide Series championship point standings driving for Baker Curb Racing. He has also served as Hall Of Fame's Racing's test driver this season.

Smith Snubbed At The Glen: Dale Earnhardt Inc. has withdrawn its entry for Regan Smith’s No. 81 Chevrolet at Watkins Glen, after NASCAR informed the team that the effort violated NASCAR’s four-team limit.

Teams are allowed to enter a fifth car in a maximum of seven races per season, allowing a prospective rookie to gain experience in Sprint Cup competition. NASCAR said that Smith – who has made 20 starts this season – does not fit the criteria for a fifth-car exception.

Canadian Ron Fellows will now steer Smith’s #01 at the Glen with Smith sitting out. That decision effectively scuttled our grassroots bid to make Smith this week’s Fans’ Choice in the Sirius Driver-to-Crew Chat Channel voting. We’ll see what we can do about getting him back in the running next week.

Kentucky Sale Now Questionable: Speedway Motorsports Inc. has less than three weeks to decide whether to carry on with its plan to purchase Kentucky Speedway, and company officials now say they are unsure what the final decision will be.

SMI Chief Financial Officer Bill Brooks told financial analysts yesterday, “The Kentucky due diligence is ongoing right now, and it’s not complete. I can’t answer definitively whether or not we will go forward with the transaction.” A final decision must be made by August 18th, and Chairman Bruton Smith has repeatedly insisted that he will go forward with the $78-million purchase of the track, which now hosts the NASCAR Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series, and the Indy Racing League.

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