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NO Penalty for Stewart – ESPN 2 September 30, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Drivers.

Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s Vice President of Corporate Communications says Tony Stewart will not be penalized for an almost off camera, almost inaudible remark live on ESPN 2 after practice at Kansas Speedway Saturday that included an explicative.

NASCAR brought media into the NEXTEL Cup Series hauler to show the video tape that included ESPN hosts in the booth discussing what Stewart might be saying as he leaned in to have a discussion with Robby Gordon.

After leaning into the car to have a casual conversation with Robby, Stewart walked away and, as he was almost out of the shot, made the remark to the camera man asking him in no uncertain terms to move away. The remark was picked up by the camera man as natural sound.

NASCAR says that they’ve dealt with the matter by talking with both sides.

Jim Hunter:

“At the present time I don’t think there will be any penalties coming down as a result. I think there were some very unusual circumstances surrounding that incident and we will just move on. Everybody knows where we stand. We discussed it with Tony we discussed it with our TV partner…..It wasn’t a live interview – he didn’t know that they were live…”

“He was walking away from a conversation that had taken place. He was discussing something that had happened on the race track with Robby Gordon I guess during practice and he came away from that.”


Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, NASCAR, Teams.
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Just a few minutes ago Hendrick Motorsports’ executive Doug Duchardt addressed last nights failure of the Hendrick team’s Busch car to pass inspection after Kyle Busch won with it in the Yellow Transportation 300 Busch series race. Here is some of what he said and how he answered when I asked if he was shocked that the car did not pass.

Doug Duchardt – Vice President of Hendrick Motorsports:

“Obviously NASCAR had an issue with our Busch manifold from yesterday. We are still waiting to hear final word from them exactly what the situation is. When we left the track last night we knew they wanted to look at it further. We were not told that we had failed inspection when we left the track – we didn’t hear about that until after we left.

The situation with the manifold that they have an issue with is in the inside of the manifold and to try to describe this there are no rules on dimensions for the intake manifold for the Busch series. The exterior obviously it’s defined but on the inside it’s not as defined and what happens with this is we have to show NASCAR a manifold ahead of time and then they look at it and say ‘Yea that looks good,’ and then we go on down the road. And we cannot modify manifolds in the Busch Series as much as we do in the Cup series and that’s why we have to have NASCAR look at it before hand.

This occurred in the off season between 2003 and 2004 because this casting from General Motors hasn’t changed since then. The late Randy Dorton had that meeting with NASCAR along with other folks from our engine program and NASCAR inspectors that were there last night.

They gave us direction and since then they have been running that manifold. The physical piece that they took we know campaigned at least in Homestead in 04 and has run since then. We run this manifold on our mile and a half tracks – our intermediate type manifold.

NASCAR has seen this manifold when we won in 05 when Kasey got second in California and they tore down and then lastly most importantly is NASCAR took ten manifolds last week at Dover from different teams as they look at rules for next year. They had a dimensional sister to the manifold that they took an absolute twin that they had at the NASCAR tech center for two days and looked and we at no time had been told that there was an issue with that.

So from our standpoint we are trying to understand what’s changed. We haven’t worked on this piece obviously in a long time the casting hasn’t changed. What we’ve been told as far as the interpretation of the inside of the manifold has not changed in other words NASCAR hasn’t told us that you need to fix this or change the inside of the manifold so we just haven’t change it in three years.

So we raced yesterday and right now we have an issue and we’re trying to understand that.

So our hope was, our understanding was that we were going to be able to talk and work this through and quite frankly I am waiting to hear what our situation is with them (NASCAR) because they told us after we left that we had failed inspection.”

Claire B.: Were you shocked when you got the word late last night?

“Yea I was shocked. We feel like we are continuously doing Busch development or engine development and on our Busch side it’s just a piece we’ve never touched because we knew it was off limits. So it’s one that we’ve been running and from a manifold side we just knew we couldn’t go there. And so we felt like we were comfortable where we were at. We’ve heard about the new rules that are coming for next year. We weren’t doing any more work on the manifold side because we knew it’s going to be obsolete next year when they go to new Busch engine rules so yea, I’m surprised.”



Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR.
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I just got back from the garage here at Kansas Speedway on a mission to find out more about what was wrong with Kyle Busch’s race car after he won the Yellow 300 Busch Series race last night.

Late after the race, NASCAR announced that Busch’s race-winning car had failed post-race inspection. Officials confiscated the intake manifold from the car and are expected to announce penalties, if there are any, early next week. I have been told that Hendrick Motorsports Vice President Doug Duchardt will be available later this morning for comment.

In the garage a few minutes ago NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said this:

Jim Hunter: “We have confiscated that intake manifold. We are taking it back to the R & D Center. We definitely have some issues with it and before we go any further we want to thoroughly examine the intake back at the R&D Center which we will do the first of the week. But we definitely have some issues with it. I don’t want to get into it because there are still some questions in our mind and we want to be absolutely sure of where we are with it before we go any further.”

CBL: “Did the car initially pass (inspection) and then fail?”

Jim Hunter: “Apparently”

CBL: “How can that happen?”

Jim Hunter: “Well it’s happened before. Something slips by us. That’s possible.”

CBL: “If you are looking at something on the car the intake manifold is a big one.”

Jim Hunter: “Yea, Yes. But we just want to be sure. We don’t want to speculate. We don’t want to throw out there we think this we think that we just want to be absolutely sure in fairness to the team and in fairness to us.”

Kyle Busch Fails Post Race in Busch Race September 30, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, In The Garage.

It was the wildest thing. Late Saturday night, around 9:00 p.m. Central Time NASCAR began making and taking phones calls here in Kansas on word that Kyle Busch’s race-winning car in the Yellow 300 Busch series race had failed post-race inspection.

Officials had seized the intake manifold from the car and were expected to announce penalties, if any, early this coming week. It was late-breaking and interesting word from NASCAR long after most journalists had left the track. Most had filed their stories on the race and had left the track. NASCAR decided rather than simply take the car and check it out the infraction was serious enough that they would fail the car because of an intake manifold issue.

Busch fought back from a pit-road speeding penalty early in the race and then rallied to win Saturday’s Yellow 300 at Kansas Speedway, holding off Matt Kenseth in a thriller of a side-by-side finish.

Garage Scurry – Move to the Back For Johnson September 29, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, In The Garage.

Pole sitter joins Ryan Newman at the back of the pack.

I’m in the garage here at Kansas Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, the pole sitter for Sunday’s Lifelock 400, spun midway through the final NEXTEL Cup practice and scraped the wall. Before Johnson even drove the damaged primary #48 car into the garage, the backup was being unloaded from the Lowe’s hauler. It’s insane all the activity going on around this race car.

There was literally a member of the #48 team sitting inside the back up car under the hood working on the backup car as it was being pushed rapidly into the garage and a flurry of team and Hendrick activity ensued. Series Director John Darby came into the garage to watch the team get the back up car ready for action and keep an eye on the process. With 30 minutes left in Happy Hour practice Johnson was in the backup car and headed out onto the track.

Scott Riggs will now lead the field at the green for the start of Sunday’s race.

Yesterday, Ryan Newman who qualified 2nd was moved to the back of the pack for the race after his #12 car failed post qualifying inspection – the roof height was too low for NASCAR templates.

What the heck will happen next?

I’ll keep you posted.

Ganassi in Garage – Dover September 23, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR, Teams.

I just left an interview with NEXTEL Cup team owner Chip Ganassi at the Ganassi Hauler in the garage here at Dover. Ganassi says, yes, he is trying to get newly crowned Indy Racing League Series champion Dario Franchitii into the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) series race at Talladega, Ala. Oct. 5 – the first step in a move into a stock car racing career for Franchitti.

Here are some of the things I asked Ganassi:

CBL: Does he know for sure that that is what he wants to do or is he still testing the waters to come to NASCAR?

Ganassi: No, No he definately wants to do it. He definately wants to do it. Yea. I don’t think it’s a question of testing the waters.

CBL: 36 races is he ready to do?

Ganassi: Yea, Yea.

CBL: Why start with ARCA?

Ganassi: Well, I think it’s just…..what we tried to do with Juan was get him to all the tracks as many tracks as we could and as many different types of circuits you know superspeedways, mile and a halfs, short tracks. You want to get him on a variety of places in a variety of situations while he’s still learning.”

CBL: You said he (Franchitti) wants to come – is he bringing a sponsor with him to you?

Ganassi: No, no. He is not bringing a sponsor. No one, those drivers, ever brought me sponsors.

Other Ganassi comments in the garage:

Ganassi also said of Franchitti, “He’s a candidate for our team next year, yes,” but stopped short of saying that Franchitti was candidate for the Ganassi fielded #40 car. He said “We’re trying to get him in there (the Talladega ARCA race) – we have a few little hurdles yet left to get done before we can announce something but we’re feverishly working at it and we’re confident that we’re going to be able to put something together with him.

Ganassi added, “I’ve never had anybody buy a ride on our team.”

As to Ganassi IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon’s interest in NASCAR, Ganassi said, “Dan and I have talked time and time again and he’s fine with staying where he is for a couple of years. He didn’t get pushed off to the side or anything like that. It’s nothing like that at all. He’s fine doing what he’s doing. He wants to continue to do that and you know we’ll look at it. We’re constanting looking at it with Dan to see where he wants to be and when and how and I am happy as long as he’s with our team and he says he wants to be with our team and we want him to do whatever he wants to do with it.”

Ganassi said this trend of open wheel drivers showing interest in NASCAR is not unusual – adding that every race driver in the United States has interest in the top levels of the sport.

Post on XM’s Blog: Post Event Tidbits from Dale Jr Announcement September 21, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR.
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I have a post on XM’s Infield Parking blog “Post Event Tidbits from Dale Jr Announcement”
go to http://www.infieldparking.com/XMRadio

CBL NEWS: Tony Junior Will Leave DEI Early for Hendrick Motorsports September 21, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Crew Chiefs, NASCAR.

I just talked with Tony Eury Junior – He is leaving DEI before the end of the season to go to Hendrick Motorsports.

CBL: Is it true you’re leaving early?

Tony Junior: “I’ll go over there the Monday after Talladega. My deal is I’ve got to get acquanted with all the people over there you know and I’m going to hang around and look at the shops just get to know everybody and just see how they do things. You know I’m interested in going to the meetings with Grubb and Allan and seeing how they do their meetings and see what they’re after I mean. It’s going to be definately a new role for me and…I got a bigger learning curve than Dale Junior. Dale Junior just got to do his own gig and I gotta make a car go fast. So I gotta go over their and figure out their deal and I just gotta get ready.”

CBL: Did you ask the guys at DEI for a release. It’s probably good for them too:

Tony Junior: Yea when I first talked about getting out of my contract told Max I’m like ‘Look’ I said, ‘We need to think about it. If we make the chase, I’ll work with you till November and if we don’t at some point in time I think we need to well just go I’ll go do that deal and Gibson can step in and get a hand on his game so it’s a benefit for both of us. Pretty much the reason we picked the time frame was just because I think I’ll have everything in line by then. You know these guys I wasn’t going to ditch them and leave them in a hole so all the cars should be lined up in the shop pretty much ready to go except for putting motors in so we’re not going to put these guys in a bind in any way shape or form its just a matter of when things were ready over here and things were good over there then I can go.”

Eury Junior confirmed that he’s going to take four guys from his team as I reported to you earlier this week.

CBL: Will Dale Junior test early (for HMS) or run a Busch car for Hendrick this year?

He probably won’t run any Busch races. We have talked about testing some. Ah, we don’t need to cause any problems. If it will help Regan can drive his car at Atlanta and if we can drive their car then that’s what we’ll do. We’ll do a lot of our winter testing at Kentucky I am sure in November and December but we’re not going to push the envelope too bad to create any more problems than’s already out there.

#88- Mountain Dew AMP & National Guard September 19, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR.

Here at the Dallas Convention Center – it’s official. Dale Earnhardt Junior Fans now have something to talk about and celebrate. He has a number and sponsorship. I arrived here with the media corps from Charlotte and we were whisked over to the Convention Center here in Dallas. Moments ago the news was officially revealed. It’s now confirmed – Dale Jr is the Mountain Dew/AMP & National Guard Driver in the #88.

Here in the Dallas Convention Center September 19, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR.

I’m here in the Convention Center in Dallas for the Dale Junior sponsor and number announcement.

Observations: Two cars with black covers over them. National Guard troops visible in the hallway and rooms here. We just got set up in the media room.

Conversation on the airplane with the beat journalists headed to Dallas is how the Earnhardt Junior sponsor and number announcement can top the Clydesdales bringing Kasey in on a hitch and handing down a case of specially brewed Budweiser. It’s interesting to me that the two announcements – Budweiser and Dale Junior’s sponsor ended up on subsequent days. Coincidence? Or just great planning?

I heard in the garage last weekend that Tony Eury Junior has the option via agreement with HMS to select only a handful (4-5) of his team members to bring to Hendrick Motorsports. Therefore, most of the team guys have signed with DEI and are staying put. I am also hearing that after one year he would be allowed to bring more – but by then many of them will be well situated in the program there. I get lots of email from race fans asking about whether the team members will go with Tony Junior to HMS. Only a handful allowed I have heard.

More later….stay tuned.

Claire B Lang
Dallas Convention Center
Pre-Earnhardt Sponsor Announcement