Monday, July 21, 2008


The uphill struggle for Martin Truex Jr. and his #1 Bass Pro Shops team will continue as the National Stock Car Racing Commission has upheld penalties handed down following a failed inspection in the week leading up to the summer Daytona race.

Truex was docked 150 driver points, Dale Earnhardt Inc. the same in owner points, and both the car and crew chief were fined $100,000 and suspended for six races. The loss dropped Truex from 14th to 18th in points, and he currently sits an insurmountable 233 points out of the 12th and final Chase position.

A mere seven races remain until the Race for the Chase commences in New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 14.

Here's the complete text of the commission's ruling:

The Appellants did not contest the rules violations, but argued that the penalties were too severe for the infractions. The Appellants explained that rigorous checks and balances in the fabrication process were in place at DEI and could offer no explanation as to why the roof failed to meet the inspection templates. They argued that the infractions were minor in nature, not deliberate, and that the resulting lowered roof was a disadvantage according to their wind tunnel findings.

The Commission found that the infractions were clear-cut. The roof was low across a broad area. Accordingly, the penalties that were issued are warranted.

Therefore, it is the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The periods of the suspensions are to be adjusted from the date of this hearing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


  • As Stock Car Talk reported earlier in the week, and now buffeted by a recent CBS report, Joe Gibbs Racing may not be entirely comfortable putting Joey Logano into the #20 car full-time in 2009. There continues to be serious talk within the organization about putting a veteran driver in the car for most of ’09, allowing Logano to run a full Nationwide schedule and a few select Cup races before going full-time with the big boys in 2010.

  • Based on conversations with various garage sources, it’s sounding more and more likely that David Stremme will replace Ryan Newman in the #12 Dodge next year. And just why would that be? Because Penske Racing’s top choice as the replacement for Newman, Martin Truex Jr., is very likely headed to Richard Childress Racing if the wrangling over his Dale Earnhardt Inc. contract can be worked out. Stremme currently conducts tests for Penske Racing, and has seen the organization take a shining to him over the course of the last couple of months.

  • Speaking of Truex, the whispers of his moving on to Stewart-Haas Racing and being the driver of a yet-to-be-formed third team will not go away. There is no concrete evidence that there will even be a third team at SHR in ’09, let alone with Truex behind the wheel, but the rumors of such a move are out there and slowly gaining momentum.

  • Much like the above-mentioned Truex rumor, the talk of Juan Pablo Montoya leaving Ganassi Racing at season’s end and moving to Penske will not go away either. While the Montoya speculation is out there, two well-placed sources called Montoya leaving his current team a very remote possibility at best.

  • One place Truex will not be headed in ’09? Penske Racing, and you can take that one to the bank and forget any rumors you hear which state otherwise. Truex has heard the talk regarding the inner-workings at Penske, and does not want to go from one dysfunctional organization to another.

  • Casey Mears, released from his Hendrick Motorsports’ contract effective at the end of the 2008 season, could very well land at DEI should the rumors of Truex leaving DEI for RCR/SHR and Stremme filling the #12 Dodge spot come to fruition. However, there is one source SCT speaks to on a regular basis who continues to insist that Mears will land at Penske when everything is all said and done. No offense to the source, but such an opinion is seemingly based on Mears’ and Penske’s open-wheel ties, with Casey’s uncle Rick Mears serving as a consultant to Penske being the impetus to such a rumor.

  • Tuesday, July 15, 2008


    Long-time Cleveland Cavaliers standout and one-time NASCAR truck series owner Brad Daugherty has jumped back into NASCAR ownership, reaching a deal to become part-owner of JTG Racing.

    As first reporting by, the team will be renamed JTG Daugherty Racing.

    "I have a tremendous passion for racing," Daugherty said Tuesday. "This gives me another avenue to be involved in the sport. It's a big stake to do this at he Cup level, and I hope it opens doors in the sport for other minorities and women."

    JTG Daugherty currently fields two Nationwide teams, but will add a Sprint Cup entry with Marcus Ambrose behind the wheel in '09. The car will have Little Debbie snack cakes and the #47 on the hood.

    Daughtery fielded a Craftsman Truck Series team from the late 80's into the 90's.


  • With Craftsman leaving at the end of the 2008 season after a 14-year run, could Kobalt Tools replace them as the title sponsor of the truck series? Stanley Tools and NAPA have also been mentioned as possible sponsors for the series. – SOURCE:

  • Lowe’s, with their close relationship with Kobalt Tools, could replace Home Depot as the official home improvement store of NASCAR. Home Depot is currently in the process of “reassessing” their substantial involvement in NASCAR. The company is signed on to be the primary sponsor of the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing team through 2009, while their status as the official home improvement store of the series is up at the end of this year. – SOURCE:

  • For those with an interest in the open-wheel side of racing, rumors are that Kodak and Subway are looking to become the Indy Racing League series’ title sponsor. There is a third, unnamed entity who could be in the running for title sponsor as well. – SOURCE:

  • Monday, July 14, 2008


  • It looks as though David Stremme is one of the drivers being looked at to replace Ryan Newman in the #12 Dodge next season. It was announced earlier today that Newman, whose contract runs out at the end of the 2008 season, would not be re-signed by Penske Racing. -- SOURCE: David Poole of the Charlotte Observer

  • A contract between Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing “is nearly completed, just some ‘i’-dotting and ‘t’-crossing left” an industry source told Stock Car Talk earlier this morning.

  • One report has labeled the deal between Newman and SHR as “done”, and that the announcement of said deal will most likely happen next weekend at Indianapolis. – SOURCE: David Moody of Sirius Radio and the Motorsports Soapbox

  • There is a quiet rumbling off in the distance that Juan Pablo Montoya could be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing, either as the replacement for Tony Stewart in the #20 car or as the driver of a yet-be-created fourth team at JGR. It’s believed Montoya has an owner-controlled option in his contract for the 2009 season, and it’s highly unlikely that Ganassi Racing would not exercise that option.


    The last major hurdle in Ryan Newman joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009 has been cleared as ESPN is reporting that Penske Racing has decided not to re-sign the current driver of their #12 Dodge.

    "It's what is best for him and best for us," a Penske Racing spokesman told The Worlwide Leader. "We're going to focus on getting him in the Chase and then move on."

    Multiple sources have told Stock Car Talk over the last month that Newman will sign on with SHR, and that the announcement will be made during the week leading up to The Brickyard 400 on July 27. Both Tony Stewart and Newman are Indiana natives, and would like to officially announce the pairing in their home state.

    A contract between Newman and SHR "is nearly completed, just some 'i' dotting and 't' crossing left" a source told SCT this morning.


    During Saturday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, a report appeared on -- the satellite site for the Charlotte Observer's NASCAR coverage -- which explained the supposed subterfuge behind the #96's in-race penalty was in fact water bottles filled in part with lead.

    In part, here is The Observer's posting as it appeared during the race:

    The car failed pre-race inspection when two water bottles were found in the car containing lead, NASCAR officials said.

    (The full article can be read by clicking on this LINK.)

    Today, we get NASCAR's and the #96 team's response to those "allegations", via

    Garfinkel added that initial speculation centering on lead in the car's drinking system was unfounded. "There was no funny business," he said. "We made a couple of mistakes. They punished us for it. We made some mistakes in procedure, but there was no funny business. There was no malice or intent or anything like that."

    Furthermore, NASCAR says that the in-race penalty incurred by the #96 team would be the last of sanctions the team would face.

    "We're fine," NASCAR's vice president of competition Ryan Pemberton said. "We're done with them."

    I guess, the question I have is, does The Observer correct their initial report, or do they continue on their path of questioning the internet and its journalistic ethics in lieu of keeping their own house clean?

    My best guess? It'll be the latter.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008


    J.J. Yeley was moved to the back of the field -- and forced to undergo a stop-and-go penalty following the drop of the green flag to start the race -- before the start of tonight's 400 in Chicago after inspectors found two water bottles in the Hall of Fame Racing #96 Toyota.

    While the presence of water bottles isn't an issue in and of itself, the fact that the water bottles were filled with lead did cause an issue.

    Yeley began the day 38th in points, 164 points out of the magical 35th spot. The #96 team will likely face what could be severe sanctions from NASCAR on Tuesday.


  • The newly-created Stewart-Haas Racing team could be going to three teams, with Martin Truex Jr. joining Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman to form a quasi-super team. Burger King and UPS could become primary sponsors for the second and third teams. -- Source: Captain Thunder Racing

  • Speaking of Truex and sponsorships, word from garage sources relayed to Stock Car Talk is that there is a strong possibility that Bass Pro Shops will follow Truex wherever he goes. Rumors of Truex's future have ranged from staying at DEI to moving on to Richard Childress Racing or Penske Racing.

  • Newman has been offered ownership in an undisclosed race team. Rumor has it that the team in question was Chip Ganassi Racing, but that's highly unlikely. No word yet on what percentage of ownership Newman has been offered.

  • Bass Pro Shops is also a possibility to become the primary sponsor of Newman at SHR should he end up leaving Penske. It's also reiterated that UPS is a possibility for the sponsor of Stewart's second car. -- Source: Justin Long of the Virginian Pilot


    Following last night's Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR confiscated the brake calipers of Carl Edwards' #60 World Financial Group Ford.

    According to NASCAR, the brakes used by the #60 team were not on the racing series' list of approved parts.

    Edwards finished 16th in the Chicago race, two laps down from winner Kyle Busch. He currently stands fourth in the Nationwide standings, although penalties expected to be announced this coming Tuesday would drop him further back.


    Perhaps realizing that he was about to put his name on the hood of a car that hasn't made a race in nearly four months, the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has decided to back out of the sponsorship game.

    "The Obama campaign will not be sponsoring a car in the Sprint Cup series, though we will continue to look for ways to reach out to voters and convey Senator Obama's message of change," the campaign said in a press release.

    According to a story by earlier today, Obama was prepared to be the primary sponsor of the #49 BAM Racing car entry for the early August Pocono race.

    The #49 car last made a Sprint Cup start at Martinsville on March 30.

    Friday, July 11, 2008


    For now, at least, Martin Truex Jr., one of the hottest quasi-free agents in the sport, halted talks on a contract extension in the wake of his #1 team's season-killing penalties announced earlier this week.

    "We’ve been working through some things, and certainly [with the penalty] last week, I said to myself, ‘This isn’t the first thing on my list right now, there are some other things we had to work through,’ ” Truex said regarding his ongoing contract talks according to

    “We had some great things at DEI this week, some great meetings on what happened, how we’re going to fix it and the direction we’re headed as a race team.

    Truex was penalized 150 driver points, and the company 150 owner points, in the wake of a failed inspection at Daytona last weekend. The penalties dropped Truex from a manageable 88 points out of the final Chase spot to an insurmountable 238 points out.

    More importantly, Truex went from the one small step of having two drivers to overtake for the position to needing one giant leap for mankind to vault past six drivers with a mere eight races remaining until The Chase.

    As to his contract situation, multiple sources continue to tell Stock Car Talk that the option for Truex in '09 is a mutual option. Both sides must pick up all aspects of the option in order for it to be enforced, sources said.


  • We continue to hear rumblings from those inside the garage that Bass Pro Shops -- currently the sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.'s #1 DEI Chevy -- is considering joining Stewart-Haas Racing next year as the primary sponsor for Tony Stewart's second car. It's expected that Ryan Newman will be the driver of that second car, although there are some insiders who think that Truex Jr. could follow Bass Pro Shops to SHR. Truex enjoys a very solid relarionship with his current sponsor, which could lead them to push for adding Truex if they do bolt from DEI.

  • One industry source has told Stock Car Talk that Newman is #1 on Richard Childress' list to fill his recently-created Cheerios/General Mills team at Richard Childress Racing. Of course, that could lead to a battle of checkbooks between RCR and SHR, which will make the current driver of the #12 Dodge a very, very rich man when all of the dust settles.

  • Speaking of RCR, another name being floated as a possibility to fill their fourth team is current Michael Waltrip Racing driver David Reutimann. With his contract being up at the end of the year, as well as that of his primary sponsor UPS, Reutimann's name hit the rumor mill earlier this week when it was reported that he would replace Kyle Petty in the #45 Dodge. Both Reutimann and MWR vehemently denied that report.

  • Barack Obama, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, will be on the hood of the #49 BAM Racing Dodge for the Aug. 2 Pocono race. Obama would be the first presidential candidate to be the primary sponsor for a NASCAR race team, although it's expected to be only a one-race deal. -- Source: Tom Bowles of


    Unceremoniously dumped by Ganassi Racing from the #40 Cup ride last week, Dario Franchitti will drive a Ganassi car in the Nationwide Series race tomorrow night.

    However, a meeting with his former Cup boss before that appearance could go a long way in determining whether or not Ashley's husband has a future at the Cup level of NASCAR competition.

    "Tomorrow is quite a big day with this meeting with Chip," Franchitti said according to Angelique Chengelis of

    "We're starting to look around, starting to talk, [but] nothing is going to happen until I talk to Chip and see what his plan is for the future and see if it's something I'm interested in. I certainly owe Chip that much."

    Thursday, July 10, 2008


    When all of the tumult surrounding the "would he, won't he" drama was shaking out early last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made one thing perfectly clear: he and his sister Kelley Earnardt Elledge wanted majority control of Dale Earnhardt Inc. as part of any new contract he would sign with his father's company.

    Needless to say, said scenario did not come to pass as Junior moved on to the money-green, victory-laden pasture of Hendrick Motorsports.

    Then, earlier this week, rumors surfaced of DEI being on the market and open for bidding. Or, at the very least, being open to bringing in a deep-pocketed investor.

    Naturally, the question would be posed to Junior following these latest developments: do you still have an interest in owning DEI?

    "I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I would not have any interest in purchasing it," Junior told the media in quotes relayed by Dustin Long in his online blog for the Virginian-Pilot.


    Junior went on to say that the current climate of NASCAR, with even the most well-heeled teams seeking a monetary injection from outside investors, could have his step-mother rethinking her stance of a year-and-half ago.

    "I didn’t ever feel like she would be interested in selling the company, and I don’t think that’s in Teresa’s character to give that company up. She feels that strongly about it. She felt that strongly about it a couple of years ago. I would be surprised. But maybe she sees the trend and some of the other things that are happening in the sport with other owners and its changed her mind."

    WRITER'S NOTE: The full name of the current owner of DEI will never, ever appear on this blog. Out of respect to the memory of the true force behind the creation of DEI. Just thought I should get that out there and out of the way.


    With Tony Stewart making offical what has been expected for weeks, here's a quick look at the post-press conference from those who were there to cover the biggest news in NASCAR this year:

    Tony Stewart’s decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing was all about opportunity. -- Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer

    Tony Stewart said Thursday that he will become the new co-owner of Haas-CNC Racing, which will be renamed Stewart Haas Racing. -- Tom Jensen of SPEED TV

    Can Tony Stewart build a new team and make it competitive right away? Certainly he can. He just needs the right people in his arsenal to do it. -- Rea White of

    Tony Stewart formally announced today that he will be a driver and co-owner of Haas CNC Racing next season. The new team will compete as Stewart Haas Racing. --

    In the end the offer to become the driver/owner at Haas CNC Racing -- now known as Stewart Haas Racing -- next season was too good for Tony Stewart to pass up. -- David Newton of

    He had never felt any desire to become an owner on NASCAR's premier circuit, never felt any need to entangle himself in the politics of the Sprint Cup tour. -- David Caraviello of

    Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner, was introduced Thursday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. -- Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant


    Perhaps the two biggest talking points to come out of Tony Stewart's just-completed news conference were when he first began talks with The Company Formerly Known As Haas CNC Racing and what monetary role General Motors played in his move.

    To the former point, Stewart revealed that he was first approached by the organization at the end of last year about a potential partnership with Haas CNC.

    Rumors of a potential move were first reported around the time of the Talledega race in April, which means nearly sixth months transpired from first contact to the news hitting the rumor mill. Given the loose lips walking around the NASCAR garage, it's amazing Stewart and company were able to keep their dealings private for that length of time.

    As to the latter point, there was a constant buzz in the weeks leading up to Stewart's announcement that GM would be willing to pay whatever it took to buy-out the remainder of his Joe Gibbs Racing contract and get one of their flagship drivers back underneath the Chevy umbrella.

    Stewart stated unequivocally in his press conference that neither GM nor their checkbooks had anything to do with his buy-out from JGR. It was an issue that was handled strictly between Stewart himself and his soon-to-be former team.

    Needless to say, though, given Toyota's domination of the Cup series this year, there are some very happy executives at GM right about now.


    While not yet official, it appears as if suspended crew chief Kevin Manion will appeal his six-race suspension suffered in the wake of a failed inspection last week in Daytona.

    Various reports have Manion and Gary Putnum -- the #1 car chief suspended for the same violations which put driver Martin Truex Jr. in an insurmountable points hole -- working in the garage in preparation for this Saturday night's race at Chicagoland Speedway.

    Per NASCAR rules, personnel are not permitted at the track while they are serving their suspension. However, personnel who have filed an appeal are permitted to continue with their on-the-track responsibilities until said appeal is heard and ruled upon.


    In a very tersely-worded press release, Richard Childress has vehemently denied a recent Internet report that Jack Daniel's was being replaced as the primary sponsor of the #07 RCR Chevy at the end of the 2008 season.

    "Jack Daniel’s and Richard Childress Racing have a contract through the 2009 season. Any reports in the media to the contrary are simply not accurate," Childress said in the statement.

    This past Monday, Dave Moody of Sirius radio and The Motorsports Soapbox reported UPS would be dumping David Reutimann and the #44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at season's end and become the primary sponsor for Clint Bowyer's #07.

    The report went so far as to state Jack Daniel's would then become the primary on Ryan Newman's new Stewart-Haas Racing ride if/when he failed to re-sign with Penske Racing.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    Where There’s Smoke, There’s A Qualifying Rocket

    With 13 wins – including the most recent running of the Great American Race – in a little over seven full seasons of Cup racing, it’s little wonder that Ryan Newman is the first name mentioned when talk turns to the second driver of the newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing team. And now that Tony Stewart has been taken “off the market”, Newman has become far and away the most attractive free agent available this Silly Season.

    However, Newman’s wins are only part of an equation that could add up to Newman joining forces with Stewart for the 2009 season and beyond.

    An industry source tells Stock Car Talk that Newman’s legendary qualifying prowess, not just his Sunday talent, is one of the overriding factors for a team “looking to gut the building and re-build the organization from the ground up.”

    “Yes, Newman has the talent to be a Chase guy year-in and year-out,” the source told SCT. “But in the short term, his ability to qualify a Gremlin is one of the biggest keys in (Stewart-Haas’) line of thinking. By the looks of it, they’ll go into 2009 without a guaranteed spot in the field.”

    Currently, Haas/CNC Racing fields two teams: the #66 and the #70. Both teams are outside the top-35 in owner points, with the former 70 points out of a guaranteed start and the latter an insurmountable 519 points out with 18 races left.

    Should neither team finish the 2008 season within the top-35 in owner points, the newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) would be faced with qualifying their way into the field for the first five races of ’09. However, Stewart could use the most recent Cup champion’s provisional if need be to guarantee a spot on the grid for the first five races. That would leave the other SHR team with the unwelcome and grinding task of placing all of their eggs in the qualifying basket for the first five races.

    Which is where Newman comes in.

    “You can’t gut the whole place, then turn around and bring in a guy that may or may not make half or three-quarters of the races,” the source said. “Newman would get that car in the field, and get his sponsor face time on Sunday. That will be key for a new race team, to show the sponsors early on that they made the right decision with their money. And that’s why (Newman) will be on the move to Tony’s organization next year.”

    Stewart has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, during which he will officially announce his move from JGR to The Organization Formerly Known As Haas/CNC Racing. It’s highly unlikely Stewart will announce the signing of Newman tomorrow; that move will likely come during the week leading up to the Brickyard 400 later this month, the source said.


    What we are hearing, from our own industry sources in the garage all the way through to the various media outlets across the NASCAR landscape:

  • Joe Gibbs Racing will first look to sign a veteran driver to a short-term deal for the #20 Home Depot Chevy. The organization is concerned they would be rushing 18-year-old Joey Logano if he were to drive full-time in Cup next year, and will only allow him to sit in the #20 full-time next year if a suitable stop-gap cannot be found. Source: Stock Car Talk

  • Despite protests to the contrary, Roger Penske will make a push to put two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in his #12 Dodge should Ryan Newman bolt as expected at the end of the year. Source: Stock Car Talk

  • David Reutimann is in line to replace Kyle Petty in the #45 Dodge next year. An announcement of the switch could happen "soon". Source: Bob Margolis of Yahoo! Sports

  • Scott Riggs has already spoken with at least two owners regarding a future ride should he not be retained by Stewart-Haas Racing next year. Source:


    Reaction from all corners of the racing world continues to pour in offering reaction to Tony Stewart's official release from the final year of his Joe Gibbs Racing contract. Here's the latest, but certainly not the last, batch of stories:

    We knew it was coming… Today it was announced that Tony Stewart will be let out of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season. Shocking! -- Jaynelle Raymon of the Arizona Star-Net

    Two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is about to get another NASCAR title: Boss. -- Tony Fabrizio of the Tampa Tribune

    Ending one of NASCAR's most successful marriages, Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart said today he plans to leave Joe Gibbs Racing after this season. -- Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times

    I totally understand why Tony Stewart is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of this season. Tony is a racer — he isn't one of those guys that I would ever envision leaving racing only to hang up his helmet and go fishing. -- Larry McReynolds of FOX

    It will take some time, years perhaps, before it's clear whether Tony Stewart leaving the safety of Joe Gibbs Racing to become a part owner of the much smaller Haas CNC Racing, is either the start of a new era or a big error. -- Richard Huff of the New York Daily News

    Reports from HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE


    With the 50th anniversary of Richard Petty’s first start in NASCAR’s top series approaching this weekend, it occurred to me that there is an entire generation who has little or no clue as to just how dominant The King was back in the day. While I only caught the tail-end of Petty’s once-in-a-century career, the back-nine of his time on the circuit, many fans have nary a clue as to #43’s accomplishments.

    Simply put, the numbers he put up in his 40-year career are downright jaw-dropping to look at and digest.

    To wit:

    Career Wins
    Cup Titles
    Daytona 500 Wins
    Season Wins
    Career Poles
    Wins From Pole
    Consecutive Wins
    Career Starts

    And those are just a few of the awe-inspiring records Petty accumulated during his illustrious career.

    While the memories of The King on the track may be fading, his numbers will stand as a testament to his driving greatness.


    Now that Tony Stewart has been given his semi-conditional release (he will not be allowed to take any current team members with him) from Joe Gibbs Racing, here's a look at how the news is being greeted across the vast expanse of the Internet:

    So, Tony Stewart is taking the money and running away from Joe Gibbs Racing – the team with which he has won 32 races and two championships – for co-ownership of Haas CNC Racing. -- Brian Hildebrand of the Las Vegas Sun

    And that is where Stewart's ever-growing interest in business, in finding the next challenge, has merged with the mindset of a man who realizes his racing career is finite. -- Brant James of

    At last, the first domino has fallen: Tony Stewart’s departure from Joe Gibbs Racing is official. -- Brian Hunsicker of the Potomac News

    What if the manufacturer roles in this saga, which is finally unfolding this week, had been reversed? What would the fan reaction be if Joe Gibbs Racing had still been running Chevrolets and Toyota came in and culled Stewart from that team to set him up with his own Toyota operation? -- David Poole's Blog

    Joe Gibbs Racing will release Tony Stewart from his contract at the end of the season, ending an incredibly successful decade in which they won two championships and turned the organization into one of NASCAR's best. -- FOX

    You know folks, I could have written this story back in May. In a number of columns since then, I have speculated that I believed this is what Tony Stewart ultimately would do and that we all should support him. -- Darrell Waltrip of FOX

    Joe Gibbs Racing officials say the parting of the team and driver Tony Stewart is on good terms, and JRG officials wish Stewart well in his future. --

    Add another line to Tony Stewart's resume: team owner. --

    Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart made it official this morning, with an announcement that they have agreed to part ways at the end of this year. -- Dave Moody of The Motorsports Soapbox

    After 10 years together in the Sprint Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart are parting ways. -- Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant


    In addition to the Jimmy Elledge news earlier this morning, there could be yet another crew chief change in the Toyota camp on the horizon.

    Lee Spencer of FOX is reporting that Michael Waltrip Racing will likely make a change at the position as well. Spencer, citing a team source, reports that Peter Sospenzo will replace Bill Pappas as the crew chief for rookie Michael McDowell.

    Pappas will be reassigned to the organization's engineering department.


    Jimmy Elledge, released earlier this year by Chip Ganassi Racing, will return to the circuit as the new crew chief for the #84 Red Bull team, the organization announced today.

    "Jimmy is a successful and very well-known crew chief in the NASCAR garage. He'll be able to provide the experience and leadership for AJ and the No. 84 team to be competitive on a weekly basis," Red Bull Racing's vice president and general manager Jay Frye said in a press release.

    Elledge, who will begin working with AJ Allmendinger at Chicago this weekend, served in the same capacity for Juan Pablo Montoya's #48 car for the first part of the '08 season.


    Reaction from around the Internet on Tony Stewart's impending announcement that he will jump ship from Joe Gibbs Racing and head off into the tumultuous waters known as Haas/CNC (for now) Racing:

    Another of racing worst kept secrets has been publicly revealed, as the news of what most of us in the NASCAR media pool have known for several months, that Tony Stewart would be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to buy into Haas/CNC, will be announced on Wednesday. -- Bob Margolis of Yahoo! Sports

    The biggest domino in the Sprint Cup Series silly season is about to fall, according to published reports, and it will likely have a major effect on the future of a NASCAR phenom from Middletown. -- Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant

    Tony Stewart is expected to announce today that he has been granted his release from the final year of his contract at Joe Gibbs Racing to move to Haas-CNC Racing next season as a co-owner/driver, multiple sources have confirmed. -- Tom Jensen of SPEED TV

    Tony Stewart will announce today that he is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, setting up an expected move to become a driver/co-owner of Haas CNC Racing next season, according to sources familiar with the situation. -- Bob Pockrass of

    Tony Stewart is expected to be released Wednesday from his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season, freeing the two-time NASCAR champion to purchase his own race team. --

    Mike Arning, a spokesman for Tony Stewart, said an announcement concerning Stewart's future with Joe Gibbs Racing would be made Wednesday. -- USA Today


    A move that has been rumored for weeks will become reality today and tomorrow as Tony Stewart will officially announce his intentions to leave Joe Gibbs Racing following the 2008 season, ESPN's Marty Smith is reporting.

    At a press conference scheduled for later today, Stewart will announce that he's been released from the final year of his contract with JGR. Then, on Thursday in Chicago, he will unveil his plans for the future: the long-rumored move to Haas/CNC Racing.

    ESPN's Smith, citing unnamed sources, also reports that the two-time Cup champion will become co-owner of the organization and the company will be renamed "Stewart Haas Racing". Additionally, Stewart will become the highest paid driver in NASCAR and could drive the #14 for SHR next season.

    While no announcement on Stewart's teammate is forthcoming in the coming days, it's still widely believed that Ryan Newman will leave Penske Racing at the end of the year. A source with knowledge of the situation tells Stock Car Talk that an announcement involving Newman and SHR could happen as early as The Brickyard 400 later this month.

    Tuesday, July 8, 2008


    Just how bad are this year's crop of NASCAR rookies? Regan "Freaking" Smith is the leader at the halfway point in Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.

    Let me repeat that: Regan Smith, driver of the #01 DEI Chevy, is the "best" rookie thus far in 2008. Sam Hornish Jr., who spins so often he rubber-necks his own wrecks anymore, is second in the standings.


    Anyway, here are the complete standings:

    Regan Smith
    Sam Hornish Jr.
    Patrick Carpentier
    Michael McDowell
    Dario Franchitti

    In all fairness, Patrick Carpentier has been the best rookie of the year by far. Unfortunately, he started his inaugural NASCAR campaign in a car outside of the top-35 in points and has failed to qualify for three races in '08. The good news for Carpentier fans is that after falling as low as 48th in the points (following the first Daytona race) and as many as 297 points out of 35th (following the Atlanta race), the likable Canuck has scratched and crawled his way into 37th, 163 points out of a guaranteed spot in the starting grid.

    Smith, by comparison, has started in 17 of the 18 races, while Hornish Jr. has crashed... spun... wrecked... started all races on the schedule.


    News and notes from around the NASCAR world:

  • Juan Pablo Montoya supports the decision to cut ties with former teammate Dario Franchitti, says the long-term benefits to Ganassi Racing far outweigh the short-term hurt it has caused.

  • Michael Waltrip and his new sugar daddy, Rob Kauffman, had breakfast with owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates the morning of the Coke Zero 400. Is there a merger in the offing?

  • Want a good read on the downward spiral of the Company Formerly Known As Dale Earnhardt Inc.? Click HERE for the view from Beyond The Track, a blog by the Oakland Press' Matt Myftiu. My favorite part of the piece: "DEI is about to succumb to squabbling of a nature Dale Sr. would not have allowed. His death has had many major effects on the sport, and it appears the demise of DEI is the latest." If that doesn't give you chills, then nothing will.

  • Jimmie Johnson is a McCain man. Really? An immensely wealthy professional athlete with a Republican lean? In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet...

  • This is from yesterday, but it's chock full of great Silly Season tidbits, including: The Wicked Witch of the Southeast looking to sell, Tony Stewart's future, Jack Daniels rocketing to a new driver, and UPS on the move to RCR.


    As is the case with all penalties levied by NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Inc. will have ten days to file an appeal with the NASCAR Racing Commission in regard to the previously announced sanctions.

    If/when the appeal is heard, The Commission has the authority to do one of the following: uphold their earlier ruling, reduce the penalties, or, in a select few cases, increase the penalties.

    If history is our guide, and DEI decides to appeal, they will likely fail.


    In late May of this year, the #66 and #70 teams of Haas/CNC/(insert Smoke's moniker here) were given nearly identical penalties to that of the #1 team after being found to have altered their rear wing mounts prior to the Coca-Cola 600. Haas/CNC appealed, but The Commission upheld their earlier ruling.

    In summation? You mess with the COT, you will lose your appeal. At least in these types of cases, NASCAR seems to be very consistent.

    Now, about that whole "when to and when not to throw the yellow at the end of races" thing they seem to struggle with...


    You know economic times are tough when arguably the most popular driver in the history of the sport is losing sponsorships.

    Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press is reporting that JR Motorsports was informed last week that the U.S. Navy -- sponsor of the #88 Nationwide entry driven by Brad Keselowski -- will not renew their sponsorship following the end of the 2008 season.

    Like all branches of the military involved in the three top levels of NASCAR, the Navy works under one-year sponsorship agreements with the respective teams. Navy has been a primary sponsor for JR Motorsports since 2005, the first year Dale Earnardt Jr. fielded a team in what was then the Busch series.

    Even given this economic climate, Earnhardt Jr. and his company should have little or no problem finding a sponsor(s) for 2009. Keselowski is one of the brightest young stars in NASCAR and currently stands second in the Nationwide standings behind Cup regular Clint Bowyer.

    Additionally, and arguably most importantly, the Earnardt name and Junior's popularity will likely have potential suitors beating down his Mooresville door in the very near future. If they haven't already, of course.


    Here's the official NASCAR press release announcing penalties levied against Martin Truex Jr. and the #1 team for violations this past weekend in Daytona:

    "DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 8, 2008) – NASCAR has issued penalties, fines and suspensions to the car No. 1 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions found last week at Daytona International Speedway.

    The car driven by Martin Truex Jr., was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-3.8A (roof of the car does not conform to the specifications) of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book.

    As a result, Truex Jr. and car owner Teresa Earnhardt have been penalized 150 championship driver and 150 championship owner points, respectively. Both the crew chief, Kevin Manion, and the car chief, Gary Putnam, have been suspended from the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, suspended from NASCAR until Aug. 27 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Additionally, Manion has been fined $100,000.

    The infractions were discovered July 3 during opening day inspection.

    The penalties were expected, but the reality of the situation has finally hit home: Truex has no chance at making The Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2008.

    Before the harsh but consistent penalties were slapped on the Bass Pro Shops Chevy, the team stood 14th in points, a mere 86 points out of the 12th and final Chase spot. Following the penalties, Truex is 236 points out of the final playoff slot.

    Even more important, perhaps, is the fact that Truex now sits 18th in points. Before the penalties, he had two drivers to leapfrog; today, there are six who stand in the way of his first Chase appearance.

    Combine the six drivers ahead of him with the 236-point deficit, add in a mere eight races remaining until The Chase commences, and it all equals an impossible series of hurdles for Truex to overcome.

    What it also gives you is the final 18 races of Truex's short tenure at Dale Earnardt Inc.