Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Deanna in Kentucky's Tequila Christmas Cake -- OUR FAVORITE SO FAR


1 Cup Water
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
Lemon Juice
4 Large Eggs
1 Bottle of Tequila
2 Cups Dried fruit

Sample the Tequila to check quality.

Take a large bowl. Check the tequila again to be sure it
is of the highest quality - pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer

Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point it's best or make sure the tequila is still OK. Try
another cup...just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging fruit up off the floor.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something.

Check the tequila.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window.

Finish the tequila and wipe counter with the cat.


Join The Ranks Of The Godfather's Christmas Elves!

It's the season for giving, and Sirius Speedway is inviting all our female listeners to brighten up the holidays by joining the ranks of The Godfather's Christmas Elves! Just send along a photo -- PG-13 if you want to see it published here -- and wish "Happy Holidays" to your fellow Road Dogs!

Suzy Q. models her Gucci Santa Hat. She wanted to show a little more cleavage, but Pyro Boy wouldn't allow it. Boo for Pyro Boy!

Kathy In Las Vegas shows how it's SUPPOSED to be done. Her other photos were also lovely, but sadly, not suitable for publication. Hooray for Kathy!

Jan Goes For A Ride At PIR

Sirius Speedway regular Jan in Arizona (aka The Horny Crazy Blind Broad) took a spin around Phoenix International Raceway last weekend, courtesy of fellow listener Ross Scott and the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Jan and Ross before the big ride. She doesn't LOOK nervous!

Jan gets a little help suiting up. OK, so maybe she's a LITTLE nervous.

Climbing in isn't easy when you can't see the roll bars!

Back, safe and sound. Judging from the smile, I'd say she had fun. Special thanks to Ross and the Richard Petty Driving Experience for making Jan's big adventure possible.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Baker, Curb Acquire Brewco Motorsports

Nashville businessman Gary Baker and record executive Mike Curb have assumed full ownership of the Brewco Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series team from former owners Clarence and Tammy Brewer.

Baker announced that he had acquired a controlling interest in the team back in September, and now owns the team outright, along with Curb. Both men have long histories in motorsports. Baker is the former owner of Bristol Motor Speedway and Nashville Speedway, while Curb is best known for sponsoring Dale Earnhardt’s 1980 Winston Cup Championship car, and serving as car-owner for Richard Petty’s 200th career win at Daytona in 1984. He has been a major player in the recording industry, as well, with his Curb Records’ lineup including artists such as LeAnn Rimes, Wynonna Judd, Hank Williams, Jr., Rodney Atkins and Tim McGraw.

“We are looking forward to creating a winning professional sports team that NASCAR and the City of Nashville can be proud of,” said Baker. “Gary and I are going to build a world-class race organization that can compete in today’s challenging NASCAR environment. We have already moved the team to a brand new shop in Nashville, hired some top-notch talent, and put a great young driver on our roster to get us started.”

Brad Coleman will drive the team’s No. 27 Kleenex Ford Fusion beginning at Daytona in February, but Baker admitted there is still work to do before then.

“We still have a long way to go to be ready for Daytona,” he said. “We are making some big-time hires, signing sponsor partners, getting the new website ready and a myriad of other important initiatives that need to be finished before we call it a year.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Official: Pemberton Out, Richert In at DEI

Dale Earnhardt Inc., confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first reported on Monday; that crewchief Ryan Pemberton has left the team, to be replaced by former Red Bull Racing crewchief Doug Richert.

DEI General Manager John Story confirmed the move, saying, "Ryan is immensely talented, and has always been sought-after. He's now chosen to pursue some of those opportunities, and we wish him nothing but the best." Unconfirmed reports have him headed to Penske Racing as crewchief for rookie Sam Hornish, Jr. Pemberton spent eight years with MB2/Ginn Motorsports, moving to DEI when Ginn sold his team to Teresa Earnhardt last season.

Johnson Inks Nationwide Slate: Lowe’s and Hendrick Motorsports announced today that Jimmie Johnson will drive the No. 5 Lowe’s Chevrolet in three Nationwide Series races next season; at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 24 and Oct.10, and at California Speedway on Aug. 30. Johnson has just one Nationwide Series win in 87 starts; that coming at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001.

ISC Announces Losses: Motorsports Authentics will lose between $45 and $50 million this year, according to a financial report released yesterday by International Speedway Corporation.

Motorsports Authentics is a 50-50 partnership between ISC and Speedway Motorsports, and produces NASCAR-related licensed products and souvenirs. ISC Chief Financial Officer Susan Schandel said she expects the company to break even in 2008, and blamed this year’s disappointing numbers on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s May announcement that he would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc., along with other driver moves that were announced earlier than usual.

Schandel said she expects better sales in 2008, as fans gobble-up products featuring the new driver/team combinations. Motorsports Authentics will decrease the number of at-track merchandise trailers this season, and use what she called “a more targeted apparel strategy.” The company has already laid off more than 20 percent of its staff, and has changed a number of operational procedures.

Justice Ain't Cheap: As part of ISC’s financial update, it was revealed that the company spent approximately $6 million to defend the Kentucky Speedway antitrust lawsuit this year, and expects to spend another $5 million to $6 million in 2008. The case is scheduled to go to trial in March, though the presiding judge has urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.

Johns To NCTS: Published reports today say that former Team Rensi Racing driver Richard Johns has signed a two-year deal to drive the #60 Wyler Racing Toyota on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, with sponsorship from HavFun.com, a family based internet website.

Johns finished 44th in NASCAR Busch Series points last season, starting 15 races for Team Rensi Racing, with a best finish of 15th at Nashville. He replaces Jack Sprague, who will join series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., in the Kevin Harvick, Inc., stable this season.

In other Truck Series news, sources say four drivers are in the running to replace the departed David Starr in the Circle Bar Racing #10 Ford; Brendan Gaughan, Bobby East, Clay Rogers and Bradley Riethmeyer. Gaughan is easily the most experienced of the four, but East is believed to have the support of Ford Motor Company.

Herm TV?: A Texas-based company has announced plans to develop a reality TV show around the life of NASCAR driver and television commentator Kenny Wallace. Reality Racing has signed a non-binding development agreement with Wallace, with the intent of developing a reality-based programs.

A press release said the company will also “initiate an aggressive multichannel program of sponsor and investment outreach such that Kenny Wallace's annual racing needs will be entirely met for the 2008 Nationwide season."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Notes From Champions Week In NYC

Dodge confirmed today that it will race the Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and beyond. Dodge Brand Director Mike Accavitti made the announcement today, calling the Charger the cornerstone of Dodge’s NASCAR heritage. He said that Dodge’s 2,500 dealers have expressed "overwhelming support" for the Charger brand to continue in NASCAR. Dodge’s 2008 lineup will feature 12 drivers with five teams.

Petty/GEM Merger Off: Kyle Petty said yesterday that he and his father have decided not to merge with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, at least for now. The two teams had discussed a partnership that would have allowed Petty Enterprises to maintain its identity.

Petty also announced that he and his wife, Pattie, are determined to build a second camp for seriously ill children in the Midwest; most likely in the Kansas City area. Petty called the project a question of, “not if we build, (but) when we build.”

The Pettys have run the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., since 2004. They were scheduled to meet with civic and corporate leaders last Tuesday night to talk about the “long-term sustainability” of the project. Petty said that if the details can be worked out, the camp could open in 2009 or 2010

Musgrave Out, Marks In At Germain: Germain Racing owner Bob Germain has confirmed what Sirius Speedway first told you back on November 2nd; that the team will not renew its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series contract with Ted Musgrave.

ARCA driver Justin Marks will replace Musgrave, bringing sponsorship from Croc Shoes to the team. Marks ran four truck races for Germain Racing this season, finishing eighth in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Musgrave has not announced his plans for 2008, but he is expected to replace Jack Sprague at the wheel of the #60 Wyler Racing Toyota.

NASCAR In No Hurry On Fike: NASCAR says it will move slowly in evaluating the status of suspended driver Aaron Fike.

Fike was recently sentenced to two years' probation after a plea agreement reduced a pair of felony charges resulting from his arrest last summer for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. As part of his plea agreement, Fike has promised to speak and pass out anti-drug literature at schools and speedways.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston says the sanctioning body will procede slowly with Fike, saying he has "got some work to do” before any possibility of reinstatement. Poston said Fike needs to complete the legal process, undergo evaluation by NASCAR’s substance abuse experts, and follow the prescribed program they set for him.

There is currently no timetable for reinstatement, but Fike has said he'll do whatever it takes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Penske Points Swap Legal, But Wrong

Roger Penske said this week that he may take advantage of a NASCAR rule allowing him to swap owners’ points between Kurt Busch’s #2 team and the new, #77 Dodge he will field for rookie Sam Hornish, Jr., next season. That move will guarantee Hornish a spot in the Top-35 to begin the 2008 season, and assure that he will qualify for the first five races of the year. Busch will also be a guaranteed starter for the first five races, based on his status as a past Nextel Cup Series champion.

Penske’s point swap is absolutely legal and aboveboard. However, it clearly goes against the spirit of the rule, and exposes a loophole in NASCAR’s regulations that needs to be closed.

NASCAR’s Top-35 rule – flawed as it may be – was devised for a very simple reason; to reward top teams for their loyalty to the series by ensuring that they are in the starting field every week. Unfortunately, NASCAR’s “point-swap” loophole allows a team owner like Penske to circumvent the intent of the rule. Instead of rewarding Busch’s team for its 2007 performance, NASCAR will reward a team that did not even exist this season.

After some savvy front-office finagling, Hornish – who has attempted to qualify for only seven races this season (succeeding just once) – will receive a guaranteed starting spot for the season-opening Daytona 500, while drivers like Brian Vickers, AJ Allmendinger, David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip – each of whom attempted all 36 races in 2007 – will not. In effect, NASCAR will issue a free pass to a team that has no equity in the series, while penalizing teams that have invested a full season of blood, sweat and tears.

That cannot be what NASCAR had in mind.

Fortunately, the loophole is a simple one to close. NASCAR needs to make its car owner points non-transferable, and award them to a specific team, rather than the owner of that team. No more backdoor maneuvering, no more buying points from part-time teams (a gamble that blew up in Morgan-McClure’s face earlier this season), and no more smoke and mirrors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ward Replaced For Homestead Finale

Ward Burton is out of the State Water Heaters Chevrolet this weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway, replaced by former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.

Morgan-McClure Motorsports President Tim Morgan made that announcement today, saying that both Burton and the team have agreed to the change, in an effort to evaluate the performance of the team. "Ward has worked hard for us this year, he is a good driver and a friend," said Morgan. "Todd has been helpful to us in the past and has agreed to step in and help us benchmark our efforts as we get ready for the 2008 season."

Morgan said State Water Heaters will return to the team next season, and that he is searching for additional sponsorship. No decision has been made on a full-time driver for the 2008 NASCAR season.

Records Possible For Johnson, Biffle: Only two drivers have ever won more than four consecutive NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races. Jimmie Johnson has a chance to be the third.

Richard Petty actually accomplished the feat twice, winning five straight in 1971 at Malta and Islip (NY), Trenton (NJ), Nashville and Atlanta; and an incredible 10 in a row as part of a 1967 season that saw him win 27 of 48 races overall. In 1971, Bobby Allison claimed five-straight checkered flags at Charlotte, Dover, Michigan, Riverside and Texas World Speedways.

Greg Biffle has a chance to extend a hot streak of his own this weekend by winning his fourth consecutive Nextel Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Biffle has won the season-ending Ford 400 in each of the last three seasons, and said he is confident that a fourth checkered flag could be just around the corner. "The car has been really fast everywhere we've taken it, and I'm positive that we can at least challenge for (the win)," he said. He will drive the same car Sunday that won at Kansas Speedway earlier this season. Biffle said a fourth Homestead win would equal his personal high of four consecutive Late Model wins set early in his career at Tri-Cities Speedway.

Tempers Flare: It’s been a long, hard 2007 season, and the mental strain is beginning to show in certain NASCAR Nextel Cup Series garage stalls.

After Sunday’s race, Martin Truex, Jr., was extremely critical of the call made by crewchief Kevin “Bono” Manion to remain on the track during the race’s final caution. Truex inherited the lead when all the other frontrunners elected to pit for tires and fuel, but faded back to seventh in the final laps.

Truex said he was “a sitting duck” in the final laps, and called the decision to remain on the track “unfortunate,” prompting an angry reaction from Manion. “It is my decision,” he said. “I wanted to stay out, (because) I thought that was our best chance. We make calls on the pit box to win races. We don’t make calls to run seventh. We don’t make pit decisions to run us out of gas. No matter what…we decide on the pit box, we get ridiculed and criticized by the driver. It is tough to swallow.”

Friday, November 09, 2007

Best Buy To GEM, Sadler

Best Buy, Inc., confirmed today what Sirius Speedway first told you more than a week ago, that the nation’s leading electronics retailer will sponsor Elliott Sadler's No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge Avenger in 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races next season, beginning with the 50th Anniversary Daytona 500.

Best Buy is expected to share sponsorship of the car with Valvoline and Stanley Tools.

Gillett Evernham Motorsports co-owner (and Sirius Speedway regular) Ray Evernham called the deal, "a natural fit," and Sadler said, "I’ve always been a ‘gadget guy.’ My house, car, boat and even my motor home are all tricked out with stereos, speakers, gaming systems, GPS, flat screens, DVD players, you name it. The employees at the Mooresville Best Buy store already know me by name, but they’ll be seeing even more of me now.”

Since 2000, Gillett Evernham Motorsports has posted 13 wins, 24 poles, 67 top-five and 130 top-10 finishes in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Sadler has recorded three career Sprint Cup wins, 55 top-10 finishes and seven poles.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Lady In Black Gets A New Coat

Paving crews began laying down the new asphalt at NASCAR’s first paved superspeedway last week, the initial step in a total resurfacing at the legendary Darlington Raceway. The $10-million project includes new asphalt around the entire 1.366-mile oval, concrete pit stalls and a new infield access tunnel beneath turn three. Construction will be completed in time for the Dodge Challenger 500 weekend on May 8 – 10, 2008.

Here's What To Expect At NHIS

Since the announcement last week that New Hampshire International Speedway had been sold to Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., many observers have begun scrambling to come up with scenarios that will allow the Loudon oval to keep both of its NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races.

NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France has already extended the track a brief, one-year reprieve, saying there will be no changes to the 2008 Nextel Cup schedule, since sanctioning fees have already been paid and the schedule made public. But NASCAR's stay of execution will be a brief one, and in 2009, the newly renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host just one Nextel Cup race.

Here's why.

Yesterday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway coincided with the opening weekend of deer-hunting season in the Lone Star State; a day when an estimated one million Texans cancel the rest of their lives and head for the woods. That scheduling conflict adversely impacts ticket sales at TMS, and track president Eddie Gossage is understandably interested in negotiating an earlier slot for his speedway in the Chase For The Nextel Cup. The recent sale of NHIS offers a perfect opportunity for him to do exactly that.

In 2009, expect SMI to request permission to move the opening round of the Chase from New Hampshire to Texas, and shuffle Texas’ early November event to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the only whitetails to be found are dancing for tips (and tips only) on the Strip.

NASCAR benefits from the move by opening its 2009 playoffs in a high-visibility, major market city, rather than the sleepy little hamlet of Loudon, NH.

Texas Motor Speedway benefits by dodging the deer hunting bullet and selling more tickets.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway benefits from the addition of a long-coveted second Nextel Cup date; and a Chase date, at that.

The only losers will be New England race fans, who will have their diet of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series racing reduced to a single, meager helping in early July. That’s harsh treatment for a group that has sold out every Nextel Cup race ever held at the track, and a potential death blow for the NASCAR Busch East and Whelen Modified Tours; both of which have built their schedules around a pair of lucrative annual appearances at NHIS. Bob Bahre always considered it his duty to support local racers by including them in his Nextel Cup mega-weekends. Bruton Smith may or may not be so inclined.

As a native New Englander, I'll be more than happy to eventually be proven wrong on this one. But somehow, I don't see it happening. Race fans, enjoy your final season of twice-annual Cup racing at NHIS.

Friday, November 02, 2007

CONFIRMED: Sprague To KHI Next Season

Kevin Harvick confirmed Friday night what Sirius Speedway first reported nearly two weeks ago; that three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague will join Kevin Harvick, Inc., in 2008 as a teammate to former champion and current title contender Ron Hornaday, Jr.

A KHI spokesman disavowed any knowledge of the deal two weeks ago, but Harvick told a national SPEED-TV audience Friday that Sprague will leave Wyler Racing at the end of the season to form a potent, two-truck operation with Hornaday under the KHI banner. A primary sponsor has been signed, and will be announced at a later date.

“Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague are what truck racing is all about,” said Harvick. “They are both hard-core racers. I know that they will both give everything they have until the checkered flag falls, and those are the kind of guys I want driving for me.”

The Sprague announcement caps a major week of news on the Craftsman Truck Series. On Tuesday, Wyler Racing announced plans to merge with South Point Racing to form Wyler-Gaughan Racing, fielding Toyota Tundras for driver Brendan Gaughan. Gaughan is also slated to run approximately six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for the new team.

Changes are also afoot at Germain Racing, which fields Toyotas for defending series champion Todd Bodine and teammate Ted Musgrave. The team is expected to announce the signing of youngster Justin Marks to drive the #9 Toyota next season, replacing Musgrave, who sources tell Sirius Speedway will replace Sprague at the wheel of the #60 Wyler-Gaughan Racing Toyota. Musgrave is expected to take the Team ASE sponsorship along with him.

Musgrave is playing coy about his plans for next year, saying only, "it's going to be a throwback to a couple of years ago. I'm kind of getting some of the band back together (to) have fun."

David Starr's status with Circle Bar Racing is still uncertain, amid reports that the Texas native may return to Red Horse Racing next season to drive a new NASCAR Toyota Camry on the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Joey Clanton will reportedly not return to Wood Bros/JTG Racing next season, and may jump to Roush Fenway Racing. An announcement is expected within the next two weeks. And finally, Bill Davis Racing has announced the signing of Phillip McGilton to race as a teammate to Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson in 2008. The 29-year-old McGilton has run the full ARCA schedule this season, and will make his truck debut in BRD's #22 Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month.

Thanks, Bob

It’s official. Speedway Motorsports, Inc., is the new owner of New Hampshire International Speedway, after paying a reported $340 million for Bob Bahre’s one-mile White Mountain oval. The purchase will become final in the first quarter of next year, and the track will be renamed New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

No announcement was made about moving one of the track's two Nextel Cup races to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but sources close to the situation say that move will happen, perhaps as early as next season, but by 2009 for sure.

I feel sad for New England race fans today, who supported NHIS as well as any fan group in the country. The track’s two Nextel Cup dates were perennial sellouts; despite a slew of ho-hum, one-lane affairs in the beginning, and even through the dark times surrounding the tragic deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin. Northeast racefans love their NASCAR racing, and it’s sad that they are destined to lose one of their coveted race dates.

Couldn’t California have taken the bullet instead?

In my mind, I understand that Las Vegas deserves a second Nextel Cup date. LVMS is conveniently located in the heart of one of the country’s top tourist meccas, its “Neon Garage” is the standard by which all NASCAR Fan Walks should be judged, and the racetrack itself is beginning to come around after a liberal reworking during the offseason. It’s probably not the most competitive venue in NASCAR, but then again, neither was New Hampshire. On that front, I guess it’s all a wash.

I also can’t fall in line with those who decry the sale of NHIS as a case of big business run amok. I could share their outrage, were it not for the way Bob Bahre obtained his second race date in 1996; purchasing half of the legendary North Wilkesboro Speedway and spiriting one of its races away to the Granite State.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. What goes around comes around.

Still I can’t help feeling sorry for New England race fans today. They probably don’t deserve what’s soon to come. And while I’m at it, I guess I’m also feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Simply put, I’ll miss my twice-annual treks to NHIS.

I’ll miss touching base with dozens of lifelong friends that I somehow see just twice a year now, wandering the garage in Loudon.

I’ll miss walking the Busch East and Whelen Modified Tour garages, renewing acquaintances with people I have idolized for a decades.

I’ll miss calling the Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup races there for MRN Radio, knowing there are at least a few hundred people in the house thinking, “I heard this guy call the Street Stock consi at Thunder Road in 1982.”

I’ll miss dealing with one of the best staffs in all of NASCAR -- people like P.R. Director Fred Neergaard, V.P. of Marketing Joe McGahan and the omnipresent Ron Meade – all of whom were not only willing to solve problems, but to anticipate them in advance and dole out help with a smile and a “thanks for coming.”

I’ll miss sprinting to my prime parking spot at the Sugar House across Route 106, a spot that allowed me to hit the leather recliner in my living room just two hours after the checkered flag.

I’ll miss the feel of NHIS; more personal than corporate.

More than anything, though, I think I’ll miss Bob Bahre. One of the last old-time, independent track owners, Bahre built NHIS out of his own pocket, with no need for investment bankers or public handouts. He and younger brother Dick laid out the “Magic Mile” themselves with wooden stakes, eschewing the high-dollar, college-educated engineering help that has cursed NASCAR with so many 1.5-mile, cookie-cutter tri-ovals in recent years.

I’ll miss Bahre’s rumpled white dress shirt, khaki slacks and yellow cardigan sweater, shuffling between souvenir trailers making sure the paying customers have everything they want, or need.

I’ll miss seeing him huddled over a plate of fried eggs and homefries in the track restaurant on race morning, touching base with Mike Helton, Jim Hunter and any other of his old cronies that happen to wander by.

I’ll miss seeing hard-luck drivers tow out of NHIS after failing to qualify, clutching the few hundred extra dollars Bahre inevitably slipped them on their way through the tunnel.

At nearly 82 years of age, “Papa Bahre” has earned the right to do what he wants with his remaining years, without the stress and strain of running a big-time NASCAR race venue. He deserves to retire to the big house on the hill with his wife, Sandy, and his antique cars, content in the knowledge that he did more for New England motorsports than anyone else, before or since.

Thanks Bob, and God Bless.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

UPDATED: Bruton's "Big Announcement" Set For Friday; NHIS Sold To SMI

Friday at 2 p.m. CT, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith will step behind a podium at Texas Motor Speedway to make what he promises will be “a big announcement.” One way or another, that announcement could change the face of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series racing.

Some say Smith will announce that he is moving Lowe's Motor Speedway out of Concord, NC, making good on his promise to bulldoze the current track in protest of the city’s brief opposition to the $60 million dragstrip he planned to build there.

Others say he will announce the purchase of New Hampshire International Speedway from the Bahre family, almost certainly clearing the way for one of the track’s two Nextel Cup dates to be moved to Las Vegas.

Either way, it’s gonna be huge. Bruton Smith huge.

City and county officials are now doing everything in their power to keep Lowe’s Motor Speedway right where it is. An economic package is being discussed that could provide as much as $2.4 million in incentives for the new dragstrip, along with a generous package of tax breaks to help Smith make a reported $200 million in improvements to the existing speedway complex. The Concord City Council has already backtracked on its original zoning decision, and now says there’s nothing they would like more than a dragstrip in their backyard.

The damage, however, may already have been done. Bruton Smith is a proud man, and one not used to hearing the word “no.” Experts say that with the healthy incentive packages being offered up by neighboring municipalities, he could actually come out ahead by leveling Lowes Motor Speedway and rebuilding elsewhere.

Maybe he’ll do that. Or maybe he’ll buy NHIS.

Smith tap-danced around the question late yesterday with my Sirius NASCAR Radio colleague David Poole, rattling off a laundry list of other potential buyers; from Roush Fenway Racing, to Kentucky Speedway owner Jerry Carroll, to Ray Evernham’s new partner George Gillett. Asked again if HE had purchased the track, Smith said, “It’s unfortunate that you weren’t able to get up with me for a comment today.”

Maybe he’ll buy NHIS. Or maybe he’ll bulldoze Lowes Motor Speedway.

Maybe both.

Bruton Smith is a consummate promoter; the walking, talking reincarnation of P.T. Barnum. Everything he does is big, and plays out on the most grandiose stage imaginable. Friday’s announcement in Texas – no matter what it may be – could trump them all. Or it could be a new associate sponsor for his Las Vegas Busch race.

As Bruton would say, “stay tuned.”

UPDATE: Sirius Speedway has confirmed that Speedway Motorsports, Inc., has purchased New Hampshire International Speedway, with an announcement to come Friday in Texas.

NASCAR For Sale? Separating The Facts From The Fiction

An article posted Tuesday under the headline “Could NASCAR Be For Sale?” on the Cupscene.com website read, “Just weeks after rumblings that there could be a change in the NASCAR leadership with current CEO Brian France stepping aside for his uncle Jim France, there seems to be speculation that NASCAR itself could be for sale. Multiple sources are saying that NASCAR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, is studying the sale of the world’s largest stock car auto racing sanctioning body due to financial troubles.” The story said that an investment bank – “most likely New York based Lehman Brothers” – has conducted a study, placed a value on NASCAR and prepared a prospectus for potential buyers.

The story included no byline, but Cupscene.com Editor Greg Engle said today that the article was written by a staff intern, then “doublechecked” by him. We invited Engle to discuss the allegations on-air, but he declined, citing language in his contract with an Orlando, Florida-based TV station that prevents him from appearing on any other media outlet. In a brief telephone conversation earlier today, Engle said that he has now backed off on some of the allegations made in the article.

“I never rescind anything that I post on the site,” he said. “Once it’s up, it’s up. But I am going to write something later today clarifying some of what was said.

“There is definitely something going on,” insisted Engle. “I have two sources telling me that the sale is being discussed, and another at Lehman Brothers that confirms that a prospectus has been done. Something is going on, and it sounds to me like someone in the France family is looking to sell out.”

A close examination of the story, however, reveals it to be riddled with assumptions and inaccuracy.

At one point, the article identifies International Speedway Corporation as “parent company of NASCAR," something even the greenest cub reporter knows to be untrue. ISC and NASCAR are operated as independent entities by different members of the France family. NASCAR is privately held, while ISC is publically owned. Approximately 35% of ISC stock is owned by France family members, with the remainder trading on the open market.

“I understand that now,” said Engle when asked about the mistake.

The article also states, “financial troubles for ISC include the costs of lawsuit mitigation, combined with the loss of potential tracks in New York and Washington State.” ISC is indeed party to the ongoing Kentucky Speedway antitrust lawsuit, and has committed large sums of money to its (so-far) unsuccessful effort to build new tracks in Metropolitan New York and the Pacific Northwest. However, ISC recently sold the plot of land it purchased on Staten Island to a company planning build a 3.5-million square foot warehouse distribution center, recouping much of the capital expenditure from that project. ISC has been sued before – remember Francis Ferko – and emerged with its profit margin intact. There is no reason (other than wild conjecture) to believe that the same will not happen again.

The article states, “Combined with falling ticket sales and TV ratings…investors are getting weary.” Actually, that’s not true, either, since a drop in TV ratings results in no loss of revenue to NASCAR or ISC. NASCAR’s current television contract contains no linkage between revenue and ratings, meaning that the sanctioning body (and its tracks) get paid the same amount whether anyone is watching, or not. NASCAR’s TV partners – FOX, TNT and ESPN/ABC – are impacted by flagging ratings, since they cannot charge as much for advertising. NASCAR and ISC, however, are unaffected.

Engle is correct that lagging ticket sales are a concern for ISC, which owns a number of speedways. They do not however, affect NASCAR’s bottom line in any way. NASCAR collects its sanction fee in advance of each event, and receives the same amount of money, no matter how many fannies are in the stands on race day.

Finally, Engle fails to explain how the sale of NASCAR could possibly impact ISC’s financial bottom line. Once again, for emphasis: NASCAR is privately owned, and is separate and distinct from International Speedway Corporation. The sale of NASCAR would benefit only specific members of the France family; and not ISC stockholders

Asked to comment on Engle’s story yesterday, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston was reluctant to do so, simply calling the report, “ridiculous.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

COMMENTARY: Nationwide Series Proposals Present A Mixed Bag

NASCAR officials have begun shopping around a number of potential changes to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in an effort to give the sanctioning body's #2 circuit a look and personality of its own.

Since abandoning its ill-fated experiment with V6 power decades ago, the Nationwide Series has been little more than "Nextel Cup Lite." The cars look and sound the same as Nextel Cup cars; with only a slight difference in wheelbase and engine displacement. The average fan cannot possibly distinguish between the two, making Saturday's support division race all-too-similar to Sunday's main event.

NASCAR is now floating at least two trial balloons. First, the sanctioning body is asking teams for feedback on converting the Nationwide Series to “Pony Car” specs in 2009; running Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Solara bodies. The idea is a good one. Most teams re-skin their cars during the offseason anyway, and as one team owner told us recently, "It doesn't cost any more to hang Mustang sheetmetal than it does to hang a Fusion. It's all steel."

A pony car-based Nationwide Series would be unique in appearance, and easily distinguishable from the splitter-and-wing equipped Nextel Cup machinery. It's a simple solution to a complex problem, and in my opinion, should be implemented as quickly as humanly possible.

Unfortunately, NASCAR's second trial balloon is not nearly as well conceived.

The sanctioning body is currently considering a system that would prevent Sprint Cup drivers from earning championship points on the Nationwide Series. Under the proposed new system, any driver ranked in the top 35 in Sprint Cup points would not be eligible for championship points on the #2 circuit, setting up a scenario that could easily lead to a paper champion at season's end.

If NASCAR's proposed two-tier system were in place today, David Reutimann would be leading the Busch Series points, despite accumulating 531 fewer ACTUAL points than Nextel Cup regular Carl Edwards. In 32 starts this season, Edwards has four wins to Reutimann's one. He has 14 top-five finishes to Reutimann's five, and 19 top-10s to Reutimann's 12. David Reutimann is a nice guy and a great racer, but based on those statistics, can anyone truly argue that he deserves to be crowned 2007 NASCAR Busch Series champion?

Obviously not.

Race fans aren't stupid. They know who the dominant drivers are, and they will not be fooled into accepting a champion whose season was second or third-best overall.

Stock car racing is not like golf. Nobody gets a handicap, and no one is allowed to hit from the ladies' tees. It's not like sports car racing, where every race includes three or four winners; all crowned "Best In Class." In stock car racing, you strap on your helmet and go, competing against 42 other drivers for the right to stand alone in Victory Lane. There are no asterisks, and no two-tiered point system designed to appease the politically correct by making things "fair" for everyone.

NASCAR has a difficult decision to make in the next few months. Either ban the Sprint Cup regulars from the Nationwide Series outright -- thereby losing the vast majority of the circuit's drawing power -- or allow them to stay and race under the same points structure as everyone else. The proposed two-tier point system is competitively dishonest, and violates the basic tenets of competition upon which NASCAR was founded.

NASCAR's Ramsey Poston said this week that none of the sanctioning body's ideas are cast in stone. "All we've done at this point is ask the teams how they would feel about various changes," he said. "Nothing has been decided. It's all very preliminary."

Let's hope the sanctioning body is able to separate the good ideas from the bad.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wyler, South Point Racing Merge; Gaughan To Run Trucks and Cup In 2008.

Team owners Jeff Wyler and Michael Gaughan have announced the formation of Wyler-Gaughan Racing, LLC, which will field two full-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams and a part-time Sprint Cup Series entry next season.

WGR will field the No. 77 Toyota Tundra with driver Brendan Gaughan on the Craftsman Truck Series, and the No. 60 Toyota for a yet-unnamed driver. Gaughan will also steer a WGR Toyota Camry in at least six NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2008.

The moves marks Gaughan’s second manufacturer change in as many years. The Las Vegas native moved from Dodge to Chevrolet following the 2006 season, and currently ranks 13th in series points following an eighth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday. Former Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague currently drives the Wyler Racing ConWay Freight #60, but as Sirius Speedway first reported more than a week ago, Sprague is reportedly headed to Kevin Harvick, Inc. next season as a new teammate for Ron Hornaday, Jr. A spokesman for KHI denied knowledge of that deal last week.

Wyler said of the new pact, “We have watched with great interest the recent partnerships that have formed in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup garage, and we believe that this is the wave of the future. To have a competitive team at any level in NASCAR, it is crucial to have an almost endless supply of resources available. By combining our efforts, we now have double the talent, and double the resources. We believe we will be one step ahead when we make our move into the Sprint Cup Series in the coming years.”

“My intention has always been to own a NASCAR Sprint Cup team for my son,” said Michael Gaughan. “After examining various options, we decided that partnering with Jeff Wyler and his team would be the best way of working toward that goal.”

Between them, Wyler and Gaughan have a total of 12 NCTS victories.

Tom Buzze has been appointed as General Manager of the new team, which will be located in the Charlotte area.

HOW SWEEP IT IS!! Sox Sweep Rocks To Win The World Series!

The Boston Red Sox clinched their second World Series title in four years last night with a nail-biting, 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies in Game Four of the 2007 Series. Mike Lowell was named MVP of the Series, after hitting a solo home run, a double and scoring twice in the final game. He hit .400 (6-for-15) in the World Series, with four RBIs, three walks and a team-high six runs scored.

Late in last night's game, Alex Rodriguez once again displayed his complete and total lack of class by announcing that he will opt for the big paycheck (yet again) by becoming a free agent, declining to re-sign with the much-despised New York Yankees.

What a WONDERFUL time to be a member of Red Sox Nation!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hmiel To Ganassi, NASCAR Downplays Nationwide COT Rumors

It didn’t take long for Steve Hmiel to find a new job. Just days after announcing his departure from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Hmiel was introduced today as Competition Manager for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Team owner Chip Ganassi made the announcement earlier today, saying, “When good (drivers) become available, you owe it to your organization to make a run at them. The same is true for leaders. Steve became available and I got him. I couldn’t be happier.”

Hmiel will join John Fernandez in the ranks of upper management at Ganassi, handling competition management and preparation of the race cars, while Fernandez oversees the long-term strategic direction of the team.

Nationwide To COT? -- Recent comments by former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine have raised questions about the future of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Asked about his plans for 2008 recently, Bodine said his Germain Racing team had hoped to run at least a limited schedule of races on the Nationwide Series next season, but changed their plans after learning that NASCAR planned to convert the Series to a Car Of Tomorrow-style setup in 2009.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston moved to quell that speculation today, telling Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway that while the sanctioning body is looking at options to use the COT chassis in the Nationwide Series, they are “not quite there yet.” Poston said NASCAR is determined to find ways to distinguish the two series’ from each other, making it unlikely that the Nationwide Series will feature the rear wing now used in Cup competition.

Rumors continue to circulate that NASCAR will convert the Nationwide Series to a so-called “Pony Car” class in 2009, utilizing Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and (possibly) Toyota Solara sheetmetal, in an effort to give the circuit a new and unique identity.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stremme Tabbed For RWI Nationwide Ride

Expect an announcement Sunday in Atlanta that David Stremme will run a 20-race schedule of NASCAR Nationwide Series races next season for Rusty Wallace, Inc.

Sources close to the team tell Sirius Speedway that Stremme will split the schedule with youngster Chase Austin, running all the companion events with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Stremme is still rumored to be in the running for the handful of rides still open on the Cup side for 2008, as well. RWI will continue to field a Nationwide Series Dodge for driver Steven Wallace, with both cars sponsored by Homelife Communities.

Robby On Junior: Robby Gordon says he is not surprised by the engine problems suffered by Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season. A year ago, Gordon purchased engines from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and lost five powerplants in the final six races after announcing that he would move to Ford in 2007.

Gordon said of Earnhardt’s current trouble, "It doesn't surprise me a bit. I've been there. I don't think they're giving him bad engines, but I do think they're probably giving him some experimental engines. He's probably getting some R&D stuff."

Political Ankle-Grabbing Escalates Again: There is apparently no limit to how far Cabarrus County officials will go to kiss-up to Lowe's Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith.

Three weeks ago, the Concord (NC) City Council and Zoning Board angered Smith by refusing to approve his planned new drag strip on the grounds of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Smith then threatened to shut down the entire speedway complex and move it to another town, and since then, it’s been one giant butt-smooching orgy as city, county and regional officials scramble to appease the multimillionaire speedway owner.

They immediately reversed course on the dragstrip, unanimously approving the project they had opposed just days before. Efforts are now underway to secure a multi-million dollar tax incentive package to help build the dragstrip, and yesterday, both City and County Councils voted unanimously to ask the state to change the name of Speedway Boulevard to Bruton Smith Boulevard.

Tourism officials spent nearly 90 minutes schmoozing Smith last night, headlined by a videotape featuring area hotel chambermaids and restaurant workers thanking him for creating jobs in the area.

Concord Mayor J. Scott Padgett said of the move, "I think it's past time we did this. He was a pioneer in motorsports, and we haven't named anything for him. I guess…you sort of take for granted what you've got."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mayfeld Jumps To Haas CNC Racing

Jeff Green is out, and Jeremy Mayfield is in at Haas CNC Racing, effective immediately.

Haas CNC General Manager Joe Custer said today that Mayfield will replace Green in the #66 Chevrolet this weekend, and will join Scott Riggs as part of a two-car lineup in 2008. That would appear to indicate that Johnny Sauter will not return to the team either. Custer confirmed that Sauter is under contract with the team through 2008, but that "we're working through that."

Mayfield’s replacement in the #36 Bill Davis Racing Toyota has not been announced, but a spokesperson for BDR told me late this afternoon that the car will run this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a soon-to-be announced driver. That driver will not be Jacques Villeneuve.

Petty Enterprises To Ford? -- The hot rumor in the Nextel Cup garage this weekend concerned a possible move by Petty Enterprises to the Ford camp in time for the 2008 season.

Petty Enterprises has a longtime affiliation with Dodge, and has recently been in discussions about a possible merger with Gillett-Evernham Racing. Kyle Petty told Sirius Speedway last week that those negotiations are on the back burner for now, while other options are being explored. Talk in the garage this weekend had one of those options involving a jump to the Ford camp.

A spokesman for the team strongly denied that report today, saying that Petty Enterprises has four years remaining on its current deal with Dodge, and will honor their commitment. The team did say that they are trying to put together a deal to run Chad McCumbee on the 2008 Nationwide Series, but that the deal is in no way linked to a manufacturer change. Sources say McCumbee would land in the Carl Haas-owned #14 Fords currently driven by Kyle Krisiloff.

Sprague To KHI? -- The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage was buzzing with a hot rumor of its own this weekend, with speculation that there could be a new superteam in the works.

Unconfirmed reports said that former series champion Jack Sprague will leave the Jeff Wyler Racing #60 team at season’s end to join fellow series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., in a two-truck effort at Kevin Harvick, Inc. I contacted KHI earlier today, and a spokesman there said they have no knowledge of any such deal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Commentary: Bruton Smith Knows How To Play The P.R. Game

The Concord (NC) Planning and Zoning Commission made like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” last night, reversing its previous stance and unanimously approving plans for a $60 million dragstrip near Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The vote came as the city scrambles to head off a threatened shutdown of the entire LMS complex by owner Bruton Smith.

Just over two weeks ago, the Commission honored a City Council request to ban drag racing as a permitted use on the property, citing noise concerns raised by a handful of neighbors. Smith then vowed to bulldoze Lowe’s Motor Speedway and build a new speedway complex outside Concord, a move that would cost the city millions of dollars in tax and tourist revenue.

The City Council abruptly reversed its stance last week, calling on the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve drag racing, a request the Commission honored after only 13 minutes of discussion. Prior to last night’s vote, Smith said there is a 90-percent chance that he will bulldoze LMS and sell the property piecemeal. He has promised to delay a final decision until after the City Council revisits the issue (read: caves in) on October 26.

Smith is NASCAR's preeminent promoter/showman, and the timing of the dispute -- coinciding with the track's just completed Bank Of America 500 weekend -- struck virtually no one as coincidental. Smith's threat to bulldoze Lowe's Motor Speedway is debatable in its sincerity, but indisputable in its effect. The controversy put Bruton and his track on the front page of virtually every sporting publication in the land, and likely sold a few thousand tickets along the way, as well.

Could the dispute have been avoided? Absolutely.

Smith owns other dragstrips around the country, many of which feature state-of-the-art noise abatement technology. LMS' neighbors could have been reassured by this knowledge, had the information been made available. In addition, questions about the proposed dragstrip's schedule could have been asked (and answered) in a matter of minutes, putting fears of four and five-night-per-week competition to rest. Instead, both sides chose to shoot from the lip; blustering, threatening and lobbing firebombs at each other, instead of working together in their mutual best interest.

In the end, I have no doubt that this will all work out handsomely for Bruton Smith and Lowe's Motor Speedway. Concord's City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission have been sent packing with their collective tails between their legs, and every politician within earshot is suddenly championing a series of tax breaks to make the drag strip even more profitable.

Nicely done, Mr. Smith.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You Ask, We Deliver!

In response to a listener query from earlier this week, here's a photo of Al Keller, posing with his winning Jaguar at New Jersey's Linden Airport. NASCAR's first road-course event was staged over two miles of airport runways there on June 13, 1954. The event was open to American-made and ­foreign cars, and nearly half of the entries in the 43-car field were, in fact, foreign-made. It remains the only win for a foreign-made automobile in NASCAR's top series. Thanks to listener John Wills for forwarding the photo.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ray Evernham's "Racing For A Reason" Custom Car and Bike Show

Check out some of the sights from Ray Evernham's "Racing For A Reason" Custom Car and Bike Show, featuring the personal rides of many top NASCAR stars. The show continues tonight (Thursday) at Cabarrus Arena in Concord, NC. It's a great time, for a great cause, and we heartily encourage everyone to check it out. Tell `em "The Godfather" sent you!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Awwww, That's Too Bad!

The Evil Empire has been ousted in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season, after a season-ending, 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians last night. Highlights of the game included Alex "Mr. July" Rodriguez' first RBI of the postseason (his first playoff RBI since 2004) in the late innings of the game. Highlights of the series included Roger "The $4.5 Million Per Month Man" Clemens getting shelled early in Game Three, before leaving the game with a "tight hamstring."

Is it any wonder Joe Torre has a headache?

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are resting happily after completing a three-game sweep of the LA Angels of Anaheim earlier this week. The ALCS begins Friday night at Fenway Park in Boston.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fifteen Things I'm Quickly Beginning To Dislike...

1. Concession stand burgers so old that the bun is welded to the meat.

2. Parents who think their 12-year old is the next Jeff Gordon. There’s only one Super-G, and even HIS parents took him racing for the right reason; because it was something the family could do together.

3. Those who believe a Toyota at Talladega represents the biggest threat to national security since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

4. Rain at the racetrack.

5. "I’m a big (insert name of driver here) fan, and I think…"

6. People who think they're entitled to something, but don't care to work for it.

7. Fair-weather fans. I’ve suffered with the Boston Red Sox for 45 of my 46 years, and never thought about changing my allegiance. And you want to dump Dale Jr., because he changed numbers? Sheesh…

8. People who “hate” Teresa Earnhardt without ever having “met” Teresa Earnhardt. Then again, it’s probably easier to detest someone you know absolutely nothing about.

9. Seeing guys like Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and Kenny Schrader slowly get squeezed out of the sport. I understand it, but I still don’t like it.

10. People who expect every race to be the best race EVER.

11. Lapped drivers who think their battle for 37th place trumps everything else going on behind them. It doesn’t.

12. People taking their shirts off who probably shouldn't.

13. "Car Of Tomorrows." Not the car, the term.

14. People who show up early to lay a blanket over 15 seats at their local short track, then come back with only four friends.

15. Closed minded fans slamming Open Wheel drivers.

Nationwide Announcement Today On Sirius Speedway; M&Ms To Back Busch In 2008

Nationwide Insurance is set to be announced as the new sponsor of NASCAR's #2 series later today.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Nationwide Insurance CMO James Lyski will announce the multi-year series sponsorship agreement at a press conference set for today at 3 pm ET. Sirius Speedway will carry that announcement live.

Nationwide replacs Anheuser-Busch's Busch beer brand, which has served as title sponsor of the series for the last 26 years. The new deal is reported to be worth $10 million per year for the next seven years. That is approximately the same amount paid by Anheuser-Busch this season, and considerably less than the $25-30 million NASCAR had hoped to attract.

Nationwide is currently involved with the six Speedway Motorsports Inc.-owned tracks, and recently inked a deal to build interactive fan zones at some SMI facilities. The insurance giant is expected to sign a similar deal with International Speedway Corporatioon for some or all of its tracks.

In other sponsorship news, Mars U.S. announced today that M&M's will sponsor the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and driver Kyle Busch for the next three years. Snickers and Pedigree will also serve as primary sponsors in several races next season, with associate backing from Combos, Twix, Skittles, Starburst and Milky Way. Interstate Batteries will remain with the team, serving as primary sponsor for six races.

It's Official: Franchitti To Cup In 2008

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates made it official this morning, announcing that reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti has signed a multi-year deal to drive Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge Avenger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, beginning next season. He will team with Juan Pablo Montoya and Reed Sorenson in the three-car Ganassi stable, running for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year title, as well as competing in a number of NASCAR Busch (soon to be Nationwide) Series races.

“Any time you can sign a driver of Dario’s caliber you have to be thrilled,” said Ganassi. “Dario is a world-class driver. He is a proven winner, an Indianapolis 500 champion and an accomplished individual that will be a super teammate to both Juan Pablo and Reed.”

“I have always admired Chip’s teams -- having competed against them over the years -- and recently paid particular attention to Juan’s successful transition this season,” said Franchitti. “This is a great opportunity to join one of NASCAR’s premier teams.”

Franchitti will begin his acclimation to stock cars almost immediately, attempting to qualify a Ganassi-owned No.42 Target Dodge in Friday’s ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Darlington Flashback

As part of Darlington Raceway's $10 million repaving project, the concrete retaining walls lining the legendary track were pressure-washed last week, uncovering a hidden treasure. Underneath the white paint was the familiar red "NASCAR Winston Cup" signage that adorned the walls from 1972 through 2003.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Red Sox Win American League East Title! Better Yet, YANKEES LOSE!

Sometimes a picture is worth MORE than a thousand words...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Franchitti's NASCAR Plans Hit A Snag

Dario Franchitti's NASCAR career is on hold for now, due to contractual commitments to his former IndyCar team, Andretti Green Racing.

The 2007 IRL champion had hoped to begin testing stock cars with Chip Ganassi Racing this week, in an effort to run the full 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. However, Franchitti remains under contract with Andretti-Green, and is obligated to run at least one more race for them; the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 6th. That race runs the day before an ARCA event at Talladega Superspeedway; a race Franchitti had hoped to run for Ganassi.

The Scotsman is currently scheduled to run an Andretti-Green owned LMP2 Acura at Road Atlanta with brother Marino Franchitti and Bryan Herta, and while Road Atlanta and Talladega are less than 150 miles apart, schedule conflicts will make running both races difficult, if not impossible.

AGR officials have apparently declined to release Franchitti from his contract early, meaning that he is forbidden to drive for anyone but them. Ganassi’s ARCA team tested at Talladega Tuesday, with Bryan Clauson at the wheel in place of Franchitti.

Contract snafus are not new to Ganassi, who went through a similar tug-of-war late last season in an attempt to get Juan Pablo Montoya some late-season stock car starts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reutimann: Busch Ride Could Be Dealbreaker With MWR

If David Reutimann elects not to re-sign with Michael Waltrip Racing’s Nextel Cup team, it may be because of a disagreement over his 2008 Busch Series schedule.

MWR finally handed Reutimann a contract proposal for 2008 and beyond last week, but Reutimann says a major stumbling block to the deal is Waltrip’s desire to put another young driver in his Busch Series Toyotas next season, rather than Reutmann.

"I know they have to plan for the future," said Reutimann yesterday. "Michael is not going to drive forever, and neither is D.J. They need to bring somebody into the company they can develop, but at this point, I'm not ready to step out of the Busch car."

Reutimann is currently second in Busch points behind runaway leader Carl Edwards, and has said repeatedly that the laps he runs in Saturday Busch Series competition have been a major bonus to his Sunday Nextel Cup efforts.

The rookie driver is currently 20th in Nextel Cup points, having qualified for 20 of the 28 races this season. Teammates Waltrip and Jarrett have combined for just 27 starts between them -- nine for Waltrip and 18 for Jarrett -- and six of DJ's starts came courtesy of NASCAR's Past Champion's provisional.

Reutimann says he has talked to other teams about openings for next season, something he says has been done with Waltrip's blessing. "I've gone to Michael and asked him to be able to talk to people, and Michael being the guy that he is, he has allowed me to do that. (But) it's not a situation where I'm running around trying to talk to everybody."

Reutimann's name has been linked with a possible fourth team out of the Richard Childress Racing stable, though Childress said today that hopes for that fourth entry are fading fast.

"We're working on it, but right now we're about at the point of no return," he said. "It isn't looking really good right now. There are opportunities out there, but none that we want to pursue. I'd rather hold off a year and make sure that we get the right combination."

Michael Waltrip Racing General Manager Ty Norris admitted that his team is having similar trouble in its attempt to re-sign Reutimann's sponsors; Dominos and Burger King. “We have our work cut out for us," he said. "Those two companies are still having internal discussions regarding the level of their involvement in NASCAR next year. Until they make a decision, we don’t know what part we play.

“Obviously, we are talking to a lot of people about primary sponsorships, because we don’t know where this is going to land.”

The 2008 Sprint Cup Schedule Is Out!

The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule was announced today. It will remain at 36 races, beginning with the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway, followed by a western swing to California and Las Vegas. Races at Atlanta and Bristol will be followed by an off-weekend in March for the Easter holiday. The second off-weekend of ghe season is set for mid-April, with a third set for late July, between Chicagoland and Indianapolis.

2008 Sprint Cup Schedule:

Feb 9 --Budweiser Shootout– Daytona International Speedway*
Feb 17 --Daytona International Speedway
Feb 24 --California Speedway
Mar 2 --Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Mar 9 --Atlanta Motor Speedway
Mar 16 --Bristol Motor Speedway
Mar 30 --Martinsville Speedway
Apr 6 --Texas Motor Speedway
Apr 12 --Phoenix International Raceway
Apr 27 --Talladega Superspeedway
May 3 --Richmond International Raceway
May 10 --Darlington Raceway
May 17 --NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge – Lowe’s Motor Speedway*
May 25 --Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Jun 1 --Dover International Speedway
Jun 8 --Pocono Raceway
Jun 15 --Michigan International Speedway
Jun 22 --Infineon Raceway
Jun 29 --New Hampshire International Speedway
Jul 5 --Daytona International Speedway
Jul 12 --Chicagoland Speedway
Jul 27 --Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug 3 --Pocono Raceway
Aug 10 --Watkins Glen International
Aug 17 --Michigan International Speedway
Aug 23 --Bristol Motor Speedway
Aug 31 --California Speedway
Sep 6 --Richmond International Raceway
Sep 14 --New Hampshire International Speedway
Sep 21 --Dover International Speedway
Sep 28 --Kansas Speedway
Oct 5 --Talladega Superspeedway
Oct 11 --Lowe’s Motor Speedway
Oct 19 --Martinsville Speedway
Oct 26 A--tlanta Motor Speedway
Nov 2 --Texas Motor Speedway
Nov 9 --Phoenix International Raceway
Nov 16 --Homestead-Miami Speedway

Sunday, September 23, 2007

UPDATE: Edwards Has Tech Line Issue As Monster Mile Devours Chase Hopefuls

Round One of the 2007 Chase For The Nextel Cup featured few major stories, as none of the 12 championship contenders suffered major misfortune.

Round Two? Not so much.

Carl Edwards won Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway, jumping from eighth to third in points, just three behind leader Jeff Gordon. But while Edwards soared, a number of his fellow title contenders fell by the wayside with major problems.

Matt Kenseth dominated much of the day, leading a race-high 192 laps before his engine went up in smoke on lap 373, leaving him in 35th place and dropping him to 10th in the title chase. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch were swept up in the same multi-car tangle, with Johnson finishing 14th and falling to fourth in points, just four off the lead, while Busch finished 29th and dipped to 11th in the standings. Denny Hamlin wrecked with Kyle Petty just prior to halfway -- prompting a raised-voice confrontation with Petty in the Nextel Cup garage -- before making lengthy repairs and stumbling home 38th, good for a drop to 12th in points. Kevin Harvick battled tire problems for much of the day before finishing 20th and dropping to ninth in points.

Edwards dodged a bullet of his own Sunday, overcoming a sticky throttle linkage in the early going that had him racing with one hand on the kill switch. A timely spritz of WD-40 on a balky heim joint solved the problem, and enabled Edwards to outlast Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle for the win. Biffle finished a season-best second, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Mark Martin and Kyle Busch.

Tony Stewart made the most of a mediocre racecar, avoiding the trouble that dogged so many Chase contenders en route to a noth-place finish that vaulted him to second in points, just two behind Gordon. Gordon, Stewart, Edwards, Johnson and Kyle Busch are now separated by just 10 points with eight races to go. Clint Bowyer is 18 out, followed by Martin Truex Jr.(-28), Jeff Burton (-75), Harvick (-115), Kenseth (-116), Kurt Busch (-148) and Hamlin (-158).

UPDATE: Carl Edwards' winning Ford was determined to be too low in Sunday night's post-race technical inspection, and the car has been confiscated by NASCAR for further examination.

NASCAR found similar infractions on the cars of Johnny Sauter and Kyle Busch at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, violations that resulted in a penalty of 25 driver and owner points and a $25,000 fine for both crewchiefs. A 25-point sanction would drop Edwards from fourth to sixth in the championship standings.

Stay tuned to Sirius NASCAR Radio Monday for further updates.