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NASCAR’s Four Car Team Limit Rule: Kasey Kahne in 2011 While at Red Bull September 2, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season.
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Kasey Kahne
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I asked Kasey Kahne on the NASCAR teleconference this week if he is able to have unlimited contact next season with the Hendrick Motorsports group while racing for Red Bull in 2011. I wondered if there are any regulations or rules related to the four car team ownership rule that would restrict him from testing or limits as to what he can do with Hendrick Motorsports next season while he’s at Red Bull, since it is already arranged that he will move to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

Kahne answered, “Actually I was kind of wondering some of that same stuff. To this point I haven’t really asked a whole lot about it because I have been more worried about what I was going to do next year and what I was going to be doing the following year.”

Understandable. In the past – limitations have been managed by the teams themselves. If a driver is moving to a new team the next season – the team he is on and the one he is moving to (and the contract the driver signs) usually settle what, if any, limitations there are regarding team meetings, testing, information sharing and the like.

But this arrangement is a bit different. Since Kahne is only going to be at Red Bull only until the way can be cleared for a seat at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 are there limitations related to the four car team limit? Well – technically Kahne is not Rick Hendrick’s driver until 2012. It’s drawn up simply as if he’s racing for another team in 2011.

I took a look into the four car team limit rule in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book to see if anything applied. The outcome – I don’t think any rule covers this situation and it does not appear that there is any limitation outlined by NASCAR.

Here’s the rule:

3-7 Minimum Car Owner License Requirements

A. To secure and maintain a NASCAR Competitor License as a car owner, a NASCAR Member at a minimum must :

1) Be at least 18 years of age, unless the applicant is a business entity

2) Own a racing car

B. NASCAR will issue the license in the name of the car owner as named on the license application. If the car is owned by a partnership, corporation or other business entity, the license will be issued in the name of the partnership , corporation or business entity, and the license will further indicate the name of the individual principally responsible for the ownership and operation of the business entity. That person will be the party responsible for all communications and contact with NASCAR regarding all business (as opposed to racing competition) matters in connection with the car.

C. NASCAR will indicate on the license the car number assigned to the licensee by NASCAR, subject to sub-section 3-7D. The licensee may use the assigned car number on the car or cars owned by the licensee as follows. During an Event, the licensee may use an assigned number to identify a particular car. A number may not be transferred by the licensee to another car during the Event except as provided by sub-section 9-6F. At a subsequent Event, the licensee may use the number to identify a different car owned by the licensee,so long as the number is not transferred again during the Event except as provided in sub section 9-6F. Points and other prizes for car owners will be awarded to the licensee, depending upon the performance of the car identified by the number assigned to the licensee. If NASCAR changes a car owner’s number during the season, NASCAR, at its option, may transfer to the new number championship points accumulated using the previous number.

D. NASCAR reserves the right to revoke, reassign, or transfer car numbers to another licensee at any time. Car numbers are non- assignable and non transferrable, except by NASCAR.

E. A car owner Competitor License is non assignable and non-transferable. The licensee shall inform NASCAR Headquarters in writing promptly if the partnership is altered in any material manner or the corporation’s stock or assets are sold (other than routine daily stock sales) or become the subject of a merger or the business entity’s ownership interest materially changes. When NASCAR is informed of such a change by the licensee or otherwise, NASCAR, in its sole discretion, may revoke the license as of the date of the change or otherwise. If NASCAR revokes the License, the new partnership, corporation or business entity must submit a new license application. NASCAR may assign the old number or numbers to the new licensee, or it may assign a new car number or numbers. NASCAR in its sole discretion may assign to the new licensee championship points earned by the former licensee if doing so is in the interest of competition and stock car racing. NASCAR may make such other determinations regarding scoring, point funds and the distribution of the purse or prize monies, as it determines to be in the interest of competition and stock car racing.

F. (1) During a single racing season, unless otherwise authorized by NASCAR, NASCAR will not assign more than four (4) car numbers to Teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that are owned and controlled by the same Car Owner or by a “Affiliate Group.” Two (2) or more Car Owners will be deemed an “Affiliate Group” if:

a. one (1) or more of the Car Owners is entitled to receive (or actually receives), directly or indirectly, from the other Car Owner(s) any financial consideration or other form of value based upon the participation, performance or degree of success of the car(s) entered by the other Car Owner(s); or

b. the Car Owners are subject to any direct or indirect form or amount of common, joint, or shared control, ownership, financing, management or revenue-sharing.

By way of example only, an Affiliate Group may include two (2) or more Car Owners that have formed a cooperative relationship for any race-related purpose , or that are controlled or indirectly by an automobile manufacturer and/or its intermediaries, or that supply or share at or below cost engines, chassis, parts, competitive engineering data, personnel, services, and/or any combination of the foregoing which creates a potential threat to racing competition.

2) The determination(s) whether Teams are owned or controlled by the same Car Owner or by an Affiliate Group or whether two(2) or more Car Owners constitute an Affiliate Group will be made soley by NASCAR and shall be final, non- appealable and non-litigable. In making such determination, NASCAR may consider all facts and circumstances with respect to the relationship between or among the Car Owners, including without limitation the following:

a. any ownership interest in the Car Owner, whether tat ownership interest is held directly or indirectly by or through another person or business entity and whether it is held as a limited or general partner, shareholder, trustee or other form of ownership: and/or

b. any financial interest in or of the Car Owner, including but not limited to the financial investment, underwriting, below market capital funding, below market private or public loans or other similar interest and/or

c. the scope and extent of management or other control exercized by, over or through the Car Owner, whether through the ownership of voting securities by contract, de facto, or otherwise: and/or:

d. any receipt or consideration of services, property and/or other form of value, or of the proceeds from the sale or barter of any services, materials, and/or competitive data on other than a free market basis basis.

3. If, after NASCAR has assigned car numbers to the Teams of one (1) or more Car Owners, those Car Owners enter into or otherwise become an “Affiliate Group,” NASCAR in its sole discretion may take any action deemed appropriate by NASCAR with respect to such Car Owners including but not limited to revoking its assignment of the car numbers, ceasing to award championship points, refusing to accept an entry, and/or prohibiting a Car Owner from competing in any Event. If NASCAR elects to revoke its assignment of car numbers to one (1) or more Car Owners in the Affiliate Group in order to limit the assignment of car numbers to the Affiliate Group to a maximum of four (4), NASCAR will consult with the Members as to which car number assignment(s) will be revoked but NASCAR’s decision in that regard will be final, non-appealable and non-litigable.

4. NASCAR may make reasonable requests for information from a Member, including without limitation a Car Owner or Car Owner Competitor License applicant as it deems necessary for purposes of making a determination regarding the existence and make up of an Affiliate Group. Each Member or Member applicant shall cooperate fully with NASCAR’s reasonable requests, under an appropriate confidentiality agreement. NASCAR may refuse to approve an application for a Car Owner Competitor License if the applicant fails to cooperate with such requests fully and on a timely basis. NASCAR may suspend or terminate a Car Owner Competitor License if the Member fails to cooperate with such requests fully and on a timely basis.

5) Not withstanding any other provision of this sub-section 3-7, a Car Owner may submit a fifth car number for competition in a maximum of seven (7) starts during the 2010 racing season for the purpose of enabling a rookie driver, as determined and approved by NASCAR under sub-section 9-4-D, to become familiar with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Competition.

The regulation as outlined above does leave itemsup to NASCAR’s discretion. It doesn’t appear that Red Bull is an “affilate group” of the Hendrick Motorsports Operation in any way. It would appear that there will be no limitations. But I am not an attorney – and, again, there is just enough open area in the above rule outline to make it subject to NASCAR interpretation and oversight.

Again, outside of what Red Bull feels is fair during the year Kahne races for themand that Red Bull has drawn up in the contract Kasey will race within, I’m not sure that there need to be limitations on testing or contact. One would think Red Bull would manage that and mandate in the agreement what is comfortable for them without the need for NASCAR to limit any contact or relationship that Kahne shares with is future employer, Hendrick Motorsports.

Your thoughts?

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Back Stage at “Sound and Speed” January 14, 2010

Posted by claireblang in Off Season Fun.
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American country musician Taylor Swift perform...
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Nashville, TN – 1/9/09 – Claire B. Lang

Once a year I dedicate one of my few off weekends to giving back via “Sound and Speed” in Nashville, an event that I have contributed my time to since it began. I’m proud to help in any way that the event needs. I always come away from Sound and Speed with more than I give. My heart is full when I leave Nashville after this event and it takes me to a place of a great spirit and in the right frame of mind to hit the long and winding road again to cover yet another NASCAR race season. It’s like a spa for the brain in an incredibly competitive business in an insanely competitive sport. At this event, everyone arrives and says, “How can I help?”

There’s something about Nashville, something about the NASCAR drivers all unselfishly contributing their time, about pitching in on the event not just covering it and the association with the huge hearted folks who make country music that, all together, gives me the big click. I leave Nashville full of warmth and good feelings about our sport, about the drivers and about life in general.

I thought I’d take you behind the scenes at the event and let you see some of what I saw at Nashville – in the drivers and in the sport.

Friday
Friday, I got on a 7:55 a.m. EST flight to Nashville and arrived as folks were just getting up on a cold winter day in music city. I decided to head over to the hotel to check in and get breakfast. Kyle and Patty Petty arrived a few minutes later and sat down for breakfast themselves and the staff at the hotel could not have been more excited. Kyle and Patty and their business manager had breakfast and began the task of making sure that everything would go smoothly for those celebrities who were on their way, for the stage shows that were being prepared and for the fans who were beginning to arrive in Nashville.

I headed over to the SIRIUS XM Studios in the Sommet center a beautiful facility with a picture window that looks down over the honky tonks of Nashville. If I were to compare doing a show in this studio to driving a sport’s car it would be like being given a Lamborghini to drive for the evening – it was so incredible. I got word that the fans had already arrived at the Municipal Auditorium and were planning to camp out to be in line for autographs the next morning. The officials of the event allowed the fans inside for the night because of the cold weather. I took a car over to the auditorium and headed for the basement to talk to the fans. They would have camped outside in near freezing temperatures all night long for a chance to see their favorite driver up close. Welcome to Nashville! God bless the NASCAR race fans.

Saturday
As I have done for many years, I emceed on the stage in the afternoon at Sound and Speed. I met many race fans and got to meet a good number of the artists and enjoy some non- race track time with the drivers who arrived to pitch in.

Country music sensation Taylor Swift surprised everyone in the green room by showing up in the late afternoon to just say hi. She was as beautiful as ever and twice as friendly. Everyone wanted a photo. I heard she was interested in coming to get a photo with Dale Earnhardt Junior. She performed on stage at previous Sound and Speed events and wanted to drop by in support of the event. She wore a white beret and was laid back and totally cool.

The group that I introduced on stage included Chuck Wicks who into the mainstream country music world with the hit “Stealing Cinderella,” but he burst onto the national scene as the handsome guy who was paired with Julianne Hough on “Dancing With the Stars – and who was linked off stage with her too. I had forgotten that they had a personal relationship when I asked if he’d do dancing with the stars again – he replied (on stage) that he’d maybe consider it with a different partner. I said, “Come on, Julianne Hough…wow!” Later I told him I hoped talk of DWS was cool…and he was as nice as can be, saying, “Naw, no problem it’s all good.” Nice guy.

Danielle Peck was in the country group that I introduced on stage– amazing that a lot of these artist began writing music at 5-10 years of age – similar to the age the race car drivers on stage with them were beginning their driving career. I got a kick out of her – her personality was just as big as her talent. It’s refreshing to meet people like Danielle.

Just before I went on stage, on the steps heading up to emcee, I ran into the guys from Fast Ryde (“That Thang”) singer-songwriters James Harrison and Jody Stevens. They told me that I was “wearing” it –loved what I picked out for the event. Ha!. I hear they may be coming to a track near you soon for anthem singing. I kind of saw them as the Kyle Busch of Music City. They got some push back from “That Thang” (a butt song) for another junk in the trunk song. They didn’t seem to care about the push back, in fact I got the idea that they maybe even liked it. Up on stage we went – you gotta love being in a totally new environment and meeting folks from a completely different perspective. I laid back on the stairs so that the guys wouldn’t see my back side on the way up the stage, lest I have anyThang extra on the backside. LOL.

Inside reflections/stories/catching up:

Former NASCAR great Ernie Irvan was at Sound and Speed and I spent some time catching up with him in the green room. He’s never been better. He and wife Kim moved to Charleston – but Ernie says they Miss North Carolina and are going to move back as soon as they can. He moved there to support his wife’s desire but seemed thrilled that now they both want to move back.

Kerry and Renee Earnhardt were at Sound and Speed and we had fun catching up behind the scenes. I wish more folks could meet Kerry and Renee –in person as they are an incredible couple. Kerry is the kind of guy who is extremely sensitive to others feelings and he’s about the most down to earth person I know and I’m not just counting racers. I hadn’t seen the two of them for a while so it was fun to sit around in the green room and laugh, which we did. When he arrived, Kerry left the green room to go say hi to the show car drivers out in the main arena area. He did this on his own – said they had driven long distances to get there and that he wanted to go meet them. That’s just like Kerry. The show car drivers were beyond thrilled that Kerry Earnhardt would come talk to them – almost speechless. People still come up to Kerry and, because he’s an Earnhardt, just want to hug or touch him. When I spilled a cup of coffee, it was Kerry who went to get the napkins, helped me not worry about the stain on the leg of my jeans and helped me figure out how to get it out. I asked him where he got that sensitivity – he smiled and said honestly, my dad.

Kyle Petty took to the stage at the Ryman Auditorium and sang several songs he had written himself. Earlier in the day he told me that he had not practiced much with the band and that he wasn’t sure how good it would be. He was definitely being humble because the man is a born entertainer who rocked the house. Watching him perform I wondered how the Opry band could play with him as if they were regulars when the songs were songs written by Kyle and they had very little practice time. He described the process for me in which the band sat with him and in a matter of minutes while he played, they assigned number categories to each cord and in minutes sounded as if they were a band who had traveled with them for years. Amazing, that’s why at the Opry no matter who was performing the band and the artist had the big musical click. “The King” Richard Petty who has been a part of this event in years past was not in attendance this year.

Michael Waltrip said on stage that he wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement with his calf length coat – he was just trying to keep warm. Fans told them they loved his new hair cut (short) and he told them how excited he was to be heading to Dubai to race. Waltrip told me he was thrilled to meet Hank Williams Junior in person back stage at the Opry.

Dale Earnhardt Junior seemed to enjoy the visit to Sound and Speed this year – and, as always, got a lot of attention from fans. One thing struck me as I stood in the green room and a local media person, accompanied by his son approached Junior for a photo back stage. The boy was about 12-13 years old and had long hair that swept around and covered his eyes. Junior was kind in posing with the boy and his dad for the photo, even when the first take didn’t happen. Junior had his arm behind the kid for the photo. I was standing behind them and noticed as he patted the kid on the back after the shot, as if he understood what it was like to be a 13 year old kid back stage with his dad and in that awkward stage of life. For a guy who gets so much attention you could just sense how nice he was to the kid, making him feel comfortable. I know it’s a small thing but to a kid that age it means a lot. These sorts of things never show up in print or on camera but when you’re there back stage you notice them. Even the country music stars wanted photos with Dale Junior.

NASCAR (racing) News Notes from Sound and Speed:
Here are some comments from some of the talk from drivers at Sound and Speed that I thought you’d like to read:

MORGAN SHEPHERD/on 2010 and a new car coming into Nationwide and how that affects him: “…..We operate with a very small amount of money. The race fans help us. Of course, Tony Stewart helped us last year. He won’t be able to do that this year. He bought us tires and all. We’re going to go out with the same goal of going and making every race. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So we’ve got the will, and we’ll find the way.”

ELLIOTT SADLER/ on the possibility of going back to blade spoilers, doing away with the double yellow line at Daytona and Talladega, and any other changes that might be coming down the pike?
“Going back to the spoiler, if that happens, I’ve heard the same thing as you have, I would be happy to see that as a driver. It will give us more vision, especially on restrictor plate tracks and things like that. So I think it will help as far as the racing is concerned.
As far as the look of the car, I think it will bring some identity back to the manufacturers, identity back to NASCAR racing. It looks more like a NASCAR if it has a spoiler on it. So when I heard the news that might be happening, I was

Dale Earnhardt Junior ( Hendrick Motorsports)/ Do you think Danica Patrick is going to struggle? Do you think she’s going to adapt? Will it take her long? Are you the perfect person to be a car owner for her because you understand the attention she’s going to be getting?
“Yeah, I’m kind of going into it with an open mind. I mean, it’s going to be an uphill battle for her to do well. But I think she can. She’s a racecar driver. She should be able to adapt and do whatever she needs to do.
We’re going to give her the best tools we can. I don’t know if there’s a perfect owner or whatever. But, you know, we’ll just do the best we can for her. She has been in a car. Pretty happy with how that’s gone. Pretty happy with what we’ve seen. I love her attitude. She gets along great with Tony, Jr. All that stuff is going better than planned. We just need to get to the racetrack. I mean, she’s been around Daytona. Went to Orlando tested. Need to run some laps.
I hate testing myself. But, you know, the policy as it is now, it’s difficult for someone like Danica to come in and really try to understand the cars, get to know them. We’re going through that challenge, trying to help her as much as we can.
But feel pretty good about it. I don’t know what she’ll do. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to sort of guess on how her performance will be or what her stats will look like. We’ll just have to see.”

MIKE SKINNER (Camping World Truck Series)/ With your record of poles in the Truck Series, Mike, what is the secret to being a good qualifier? What gets you up on the wheel? What do you do different that’s better than other guys? What does it take to make one perfect lap?
“I think the desire and the willingness to scare the hell out of yourself for two laps comes into play. You know, when they came out with I call ’em restrictor plates, but we run a spacer plate under the carburetor now that takes about a hundred horsepower or so out of the engine. We got to making so much horsepower, these trucks got to running over 200 miles an hour at some of these places. They’re just not aerodynamically sound for that. NASCAR slowed us down to keep us from flying up and hurting somebody in the stands or hurting ourselves.
Nowadays, these big tracks like Texas, Atlanta, places like that, a few years ago, there might have been only three or four of us in the field that was crazy enough, brave enough, stupid enough, I’m not really sure which, to try to hold it wide open all the way around of the racetrack. I’ve been blessed to have the ability to be one of those people that has been able to do that.
Nowadays, everybody holds it wide open qualifying. So there’s no real advantage to being a great qualifier any more in this day and time, except when you get to places like Martinsville, Virginia, Bristol. Anywhere you have to lift off the throttle, then it’s really still important. But a lot of the racetracks we go to now, everybody runs wide open.”

MIKE SKINNER Have you pleaded with NASCAR to take the taper spacer out of the Nationwide and Camping World trucks and cars?
“Yes, we have. I have to say that I would hate to be in NASCAR’s position because it’s a double edged sword. They take those plates out of there, we put a truck up in the grandstand somewhere and harm our fans, now we’ve got a really big black eye in our sport. You know, we go out, a couple drivers lose their lives, we’ve got a huge black eye.
It’s a double edged sword. I totally understand NASCAR’s position, but I do think we need to put recovery and acceleration back in these things. I still think that the Camping World Truck Series is the best show in NASCAR as far as the time of the race. It’s about half the distance. We race every lap from green to checkered. But we’re still the third tier series, and that’s okay. I enjoy it. I enjoy it just the way it is.
I would vote for putting the horsepower back in the motors, though.”

Aric Almirola (racing in the 09 Phoenix Racing car in Sprint cup in 2010/Aric, is that a full season in ’10?
“Well, I talked with James (Finch) about it. I mean, his plan is to go full time. Still working on a lot of things. At this point, when I got off the phone with him just the other day, it was, We’re going racing, and the rest will take care of itself. Hopefully we can get everything situated in the next couple weeks. But, yeah, I mean, we’re going to go to Daytona. I’ve asked them, Are we going to race, start and park? What’s our plan? He told me, Just get in and drive it. So I’m excited. I’m looking forward to 2010. I’m ready.”

Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip/on the possibility of NASCAR eliminating the yellow line rule?
Bowyer: “It’s a mistake. The yellow line, like he said, at the end of the straightaway, there’s 10 foot of runoff over there between the yellow line and the grass, say. You get down there and you don’t get back up before the bank starts again, you’re just gonna launch up there. You’ll turn right, wipe everybody out.
At least the yellow line keeps everybody on the bank as you get into the transition of the corner. I think it’s important. It’s a good rule. It’s tough. Like David Ragan or whoever it was that lost that race, you know, got blocked down there. Probably if that yellow line rule wouldn’t have been there, he would have won the race.
It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s a good cause. It’s done its job, what it was intended to do. I hope they keep it.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: By the way, that was my idea, too, the yellow line.

————————————————–

That’s just some of the conversation with the drivers and behind the scenes at ‘Sound and Speed”. I’ll catch up with you later. I can’t wait to go back racing in 2010.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B.

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48 Team Post Texas Motor Speedway Crash “Let’s Build Something Together” November 8, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers, NASCAR, Trackside.
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Dallas/Fort Worth 11/08/09 – Claire B Lang 5:48 p.m. EST Sunday

As the Lowe’s team lifted the cover on the #48 team’s crash cart to begin work on Johnson’s destroyed race car – I noticed the Lowe’s logo and the slogan printed adjacent to it in large white letters, “Let’s Build Something Together.” That is exactly what the Chad Knaus (crew chief) and Ron Malec (car chief) led race team did – they rebuilt the 48 car after a second lap crash not of their driver’s making.

As I watched the Lowe’s team work on their race car, I was expecting Johnson to jump out and grab a wrench and Chad for to ask him ( as he does in the Kobalt tools commercial), “What are you doing Jimmie?” And Johnson would reply, “I’m helping fix the car Chad.” But Johnson stayed right were Knaus wanted him -inside the car ready to pilot it back out when the time was right, because Knaus had supreme confidence that this car was returning to the race track.

The team replaced the rear end housing, drive shaft, rear deck lid, mounts, front end, welded the chassis and the list goes on and on. It’s easier to list what this team did not do to their race car. Watching this team work exemplifies what makes the 48 guys so good.

It’s as if they had rehearsed this scenereo to perfection. There were some 15 Lowes guys working in sync, without speaking, on the points-leading race car while three NASCAR officials looked on. Knaus, as always, carried himself like the team owner, keeping calm and overseeing a major reconstruction project.

Twenty five media folks, local, national, print, broadcast, all standing around watching the one hour plus repairs on Johnson’s ride in the garage here at Texas Motor Speedway. Their comments initially ranged from, “He needs to man up and get out of the car and talk,” to “This is so smooth it’s like watching doctors work in the ER,” to “They’ll never get this car back out there,” to “that’s incredible.” Most of the comments were about how this team went to work, didn’t show even so much as a frown or a facial expression of any kind, any of them, and, like machines, went to work to get the car back on the race track.

There was Chad Knaus pounding sheet metal to bend it using the side of the garage stall’s concrete wall to bend the piece. They were welding, pounding, fitting, inspecting, and screwing metal, hoses, tape and wiring. They carefully used a broom under the car several times to clear the way for the tires as they prepared to pull out of the garage and at one point welded near the gas tank and a fire extinguisher and safety tarp were brought over.

Three times, they’d get close to being ready to take the car out and Chad or one of the officials would see something that needed attention. So, once again without expression, the appropriate member of the team, or Chad or Ron would move in and finesse the area one more time.

Chad would feel around the spoiler, or a rim or area he was concerned about and the team would watch him like a hawk, instinct telling them what they needed to do next. Watching this team work on their car –one just knows that most of these guys know this race car better than they know their girlfriends, wives and family members.

As the car pulled out to return to the track, I watched the members of the 48 machine run out like a football team chasing on to the field to return to the pits. Leading those running out of the garage towards the gate that leads onto pit road was car chief Ron Malec and, as he ran, he turned around quickly once and look back over his shoulder at the team guys running behind him. His face lined with grease and sweat, he gave them a thankful and confident warm smile, in a trademark 48 calm and focused way – he did so faintly but I’m sure they picked up on it because I did.

And on the 48 went to take, once again, the field of battle in a car many thought would never make it back on this race track today.

Over the years I’ve covered this sport I’ve seen many teams make incredible repairs to race cars that we thought would never make it back out onto the race track- so this is not a first.

It was something to watch though.

They made it seem easy.

Breaking news blog – Where is Casey Mears Going? August 10, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR.
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Claire B.Log
Covering Watkins Glenn International

Where is Casey Mears Going in ’09? ——-Options as of August 10, 2008

Casey Mears (Driver of the #5 Kellogg’s Carquest Impala SS) addressed reports that he is the top candidate and will take the fourth ride at Richard Childress Racing when he leaves Hendrick Motorsports next season. Today (Sunday) he clarified his current progress on plans for ’09 which seem to be fluctuating as negotiations continue.

Q: WHAT IS THE LATEST ON YOUR SEARCH FOR A NEW TEAM BEGINNING NEXT SEASON?

MEARS: “Just looking. Right now, nothing is done at all, still talking to a couple of different teams trying to get it sorted out. Obviously there is a lot going on and things have been said this week, but nothing is signed. I am still trying to figure out what is going to be the best possible program for myself.

“Just really focused more than anything on this weekend and during the week focused on what is going on with next season. Hopefully, we can get something sorted out soon. Really right now, nothing is happening other than talk with a few different teams. Until we get that sorted out, there is not a whole lot to say.”

Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE GOOD CHOICES?

MEARS: “There are a couple of good teams. I mean, all of them right now are good choices, just depends on how you look at it. What the potential is for the future versus where the teams are right now. There are teams that have room for growth and a lot of potential for the future. There are teams that are ready to go right now. Really, just have got to get sorted through everything right not. Nothing is signed.

“Like I said, I am down the road with a couple of different guys trying to sort things out. Hopefully, soon we can get it nailed down and have answers for everybody.”

Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE A WEEK OR 10 DAYS AWAY FROM HAVING THIS FINALIZED?

MEARS: “I would like to think so, if we can get something sorted out. But then again, it could take another month. It just depends on the details and after we sit down and look at all the details of the agreements and exactly how everything is, no telling how long it can take. Obviously the sooner the better for me if we could just get it sorted out and be able to focus on the remainder of this season; then focus on next year when it comes, would be good.”

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM DRIVING A CAR AT THE START OF NEXT SEASON THAT DOESN’T HAVE ANY OWNER POINTS?

MEARS: “I wouldn’t be real comfortable with that. Obviously I have to weigh out my options and see how things are. When you compare things, you have to compare teams. If you know you are going with a team that is very capable of making those first five races, then it definitely makes things a little bit easier. If you know you are going with a team that maybe in the past didn’t look like it had as good of a shot to make those races at times, you have to weigh out how all that is. As of right now, it is still pretty wide open. I mean there are some things that look good. Don’t get me wrong. I am excited about some things that are happening but right nothing is signed.

“I have always been one of those guys man, I have always talked about things before they happen or got excited about them before they happen and then have to explain why they didn’t. Until things are signed and done, I really don’t know what exactly is going to happen yet. Some things look good, but right now, there is just not a whole lot to talk about.”

Q: HAVE YOU NARROWED IT TO TWO OR THREE TEAMS OR DO YOU HAVE A NUMBER?

MEARS: “It just depends. At times I was down to one, at times it gets back up to five, it just depends on where those teams are. Where they are with their sponsorship and what they want to do with their current situations. There are a lot of guys that are thinking about doing things different for next season and it might be a month down the road before they know exactly what is going on. There are some guys that are ready to go now. I want to get something done sooner than later. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with talking about this too much longer and we can get something announced soon and go on about our way.”

Enjoy the race – I’ll keep you posted on breaking news.

Centurion Boats at The Glen – Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Sunday | 1 PM | ESPN

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Happy 4th of July- Big Hendrick Announcement July 4, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR.
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Mark MartinImage via WikipediaHey all! Good morning. God Bless the troops – remember what 4th of July is really about – and God speed their safe return to America if they are serving overseas.

I arrived here in the media center at 8:00 a.m. and there was no one here. I’ts July 4th and I guess everyone figured the garage doesn’t open until 9:00 and it’s a holiday. I wanted to get in early and write you all a note and get some things done before everything starts cooking here.

The big Hendrick driver announcement will be today at 12:30 p.m. (I’ll have an update on the sports nation (Channel 144) during the breaking news update right after 12:30 p.m. – It’s funny – almost everyone in the garage has talked about Mark Martin joining Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 car -in a round about way.

Drivers on Mark Martin – as heard in the garage Thursday, July 3rd. (One day before the announcement):

Aric Almirola:

ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL THE LAST FEW PIECES OF ADVICE OUT OF MARK MARTIN BEFORE HE DOES WHATEVER HE IS GOING TO DO?
“Yeah, but I’ve talked to him about it and he is still the same Mark Martin. He’s going to be at the race track and if anything, it would almost be better because now weekends that I’m in the race car, he’s going to be in the race car too so I can walk over and grab him and speak with him for a second and ask him if his car is doing this or that or whatever. He’s been a big help for me this year with stuff on and off the race track, but I think he’ll be just as much of a help to me for the rest of my career. He’s a phenomenal race car driver and he’s taught me a lot and hopefully he doesn’t stop teaching me.

Dale Earnhardt Jr:

Q. (Question regarding Mark Martin.)
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: They haven’t announced anything yet. Mark’s a great racecar driver. He’s done a great job driving the No. 8 car this year. He’s a veteran that all the guys look up to. He’s a great tutor for the sport, for young guys. I think that anybody that gets a chance to work with him can learn a lot.

Q. (Question regarding retirement and keeping going.)
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: A lot of different reasons. You know, it’s really hard to put it down, I suppose. As tough as the schedule is, it’s pretty hard to just stop and not do nothing or do something else, I suppose.

Jeff Gordon:

Q. Is there still something you could learn from him?
JEFF GORDON: You know, I learn from everybody. But I absolutely will learn from Mark. Mark has amazing patience, but he has amazing drive and commitment. You know, you look at the shape that he’s in. You know, there’s not too many guys – I’m not saying he’s old – I’m just saying not too many guys are out there, you know, or have been out there in the past at his age that are as competitive as he is through all the changes that have gone on through cars, teams, everything else. You know, that to me is one of the many things I admire about him.

Tony Stewart:

Do you think Mark Martin is capable of winning a championship at his age?

“Oh, absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind. I think eight or 10 years from now he will still be able to win championships. He’s just that competitive. You look at how good of shape he’s in and how good of a job he does at taking care of himself. He’s a guy that could go as long as he really has the desire to go. You’re never going to lose that talent and that ability and as long as he stays healthy like he’s been doing, he realistically could do this for another eight or 10 years if he really wanted to.”

What is inside of an athlete that makes you want to keep doing this forever?

“The fact that you have that never quit attitude. It’s hard to walk away from something. I tried walking away from open wheel racing when I started my contract with Joe (Gibbs) and J.D. (Gibbs) in 1998. I quit running midgets and Sprint cars and that lasted about five months and I was back in a car. It’s hard to stay away when it’s something you spent your whole life and dedicated your whole life to it. It’s hard to just up and stop and do something different. I think it was nice for Mark (Martin) to be able to do a partial schedule this year and catch his breath a little bit. This series takes a lot out of you with all of the obligations and testing and everything that goes along with it. For him to not run the full schedule this year I think has kind of given him enough of a chance to catch his breath and get ready to go full-time again.”

And the race fans called “Dialed In” In droves Thursday to talk about Mark Martins choice. On Wednesday – almost all the fans called with critical comments about not retiring after he said he was going to. Thursday the Mark Martin fans called to support his decision saying that they were the kind of fans that settled their thoughts a little before calling. Here are some of the emails that I received:

EMAIL:

Hey Claire,

On the Mark Martin thing, If I remember correctly, he never said retire. Just cutting back some after all the years of 36 and 37 races.
Besides, if all the so called Mark Martin fans who called in yesterday bitching and complaining about him going to Hendrick, first they should be mad at Jack Roush for not working with him on cutting back, second it’s not even confirmed as of yet that he is going to Hendrick……………..ok so we all know that, that is what’s going to be talked about tomorrow.
Shoot, the man has the right to race where ever and for who ever he wants or will hire him. Any team would be foolish not to hire hime, part time or full time.

Just my 8 cents worth.

Happy 4th to you, be safe and careful in your travels.

Were going racing this weekend……………well all right tomorrow night in the Camping World West at Irwindale. Will keep you posted on the results.

Jack
Hauler Driver
Borneman Motorsports
Send the 8 car

Hey clair i agree (fans should) lay off mark. Go jr. Send the 5 + 88 around

mitch in. Nm

Hey Claire,
Maybe the reason that they are so hard on Mark is because if you listen to some of his interviews, he always say that he loves this team or that team that he is currently on. Fans like drivers to stay with one team for alittle while. It is hard to follow a driver if there only in the car half of the races and they don’t get to see there driver all the time. My personal feeling is that it doesn’t matter. Mark Martin is a great driver either way.

With Tony Stewart it might be alittle different because it Tony decides to change teams there is a real good chance that Home Depot would go with him. Fans would not have to change that much. Maybe only the number.

Lisa in New Jersey

HEY CBL I’M HAPPY FOR MARK MARTIN HE NEEDS TO
DO WHAT MAKES HIMSELF AND FAMILY HAPPY!!
HE WILL GO OUT ON HIS TERMS AND HIS TERMS ONLY!!
SO ADD ME TO THE LAY OFF MARK MARTIN LIST!!

A DALE JR FAN IN N.C.
🙂

I would be so happy to have Mark on any time I could not cheer him on because if he won so did Theresa. That just ticked me off
Go mark
Sent from my iPhone

I’m all for what Mark Martin wants to do……..I just hope he know’s and understands what he “signs on for” since Rick Hendrick’s record shows he dumps drivers when something else better comes along……….”driver beware”.

Sandy from Georgia

Miss Claire,

I just went out to listen to your show.Now what is your opinion. Same as Mark Martin. are you glad that Bret is talking about coming back? or should he just stay retired? Mark said he was done and now he is still out there racing. Is it money or just the drive to drive? I used to like Mark But his flip floping makes me want to puke. Or does money Talk and b.s. walk? Yes i want Bret Back. He is Packer Football. But i think he should just be done and go to the Hall of Fame in 5 years.

Bill A.

Gulfport, Ms.

OK, so here’s the deal…Mark RETIRED, but then said he HAD to stick around for Jack Rousch. Then he had to help younger drivers. Then he could pick whatever he wanted. 26 races per year isn’t part-time, it’s messing up who he is “sharing” with. Eric hasn’t got any better and Regan Smith didn’t either because they never got to race. I remember “retiring” like Rusty – did you hear retire or is it just me? I didn’t pay for any merchandise so that’s not it. I am just sick of Mark doing what Mark wants to do. Who is he helping this time other than himself…
OK, I won’t bug anymore on this, but who didn’t hear retirement? Yeah, it’s his decision and it’s a bad one.

I’ll be back later after the Hendrick announcement with details here. Or, if anyone sneezes in the garage (which opens in ten min) I will let you know.

Happy 4th of July- be safe and enjoy!

Claire B

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Update BREAKING blog- Casey Mears; Greg Biffle June 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Breaking News, Drivers, NASCAR, Teams.
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Outside Roush headquarters.Image via WikipediaMore from New Hampshire 11:41 a.m.- I stopped by the radio room here in the Media Center at NHMS for a quick second to send you this update:

Casey Mears was just in the deadline room here and to his fans – I can report he was doing just fine. He’s not one to hang his head and he said that he has known for weeks. Naturally, he said, he would have liked to have stayed but that it’s almost a relief to know what is happening so he can concentrate on the rest of the season. He seemed extremely upbeat at the potential for the future.

He said that he had not thought about next year and at first he was afraid nothing was going to be open but that he’s been talking to a few folks and has been “pleasantly surprised.”

One question to Mears is whether or not he was up for the fourth Richard Childress Racing ride because his name is now being linked to it – he answered, “You know if something like that were to develop that would be a great opportunity.” He added that he’d like to get his future ride tied up as soon as possible so that he can focus on the remaining part of this year at Hendrick Motorsports.

_____________________________________

I’m already getting email from you all:

Sad Sad Sad,I can not believe Mr Hendrick has thrown away Casey,My God these drivers are Human beings with feelings,Why Why would Rick do this,why did he not move CC’s or Car Chiefs Etc.Rick did this last year to Kyle and now to Casey,I hope and pray Casey can get another cup ride Jeez with impending fatherhood How can Rick be so COLD!
Leslie Eaton Addison Mi

Some of you are not as upset – but more interested in who might go in that ride. Send me an email and let me know what you think: ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com
_____________________________________

News on the Biffle contract signing watch. The ink has dried, thank goodness.

Here’s the news release issued this morning from Roush Fenway Racing:

Loudon, N.H. (June 27, 2008) – Greg Biffle announced today that he has
signed a three-year extension of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing.
Biffle has been with Roush Fenway Racing since 1998. During his 10
years at Roush Fenway Racing, Biffle has accumulated 46 wins, 166
top-five finishes and 250 top-10 finishes in 496 starts. In 2002,
Biffle took the NASCAR Nationwide Series title making him the only
driver in NASCAR history with both a Nationwide and a Craftsman Truck
Series championship title. He is currently seventh in the Sprint Cup
point standings driving the No. 16 3M/Dish Network/Jackson
Hewitt-sponsored Ford Fusion.

Biffle is looking forward to the continued relationship with Roush
Fenway Racing as well as a long-term partnership with 3M.

“I’m extremely happy and relieved to have this contract complete,” said
Biffle. “I have a team that can contend for the championship this
season and for future seasons as well. 3M has been an incredible
partner for several years now and having them on board made the decision
even easier. All the elements are in place: the resources of Ford and
Roush Fenway, the excellent team, the outstanding cars and having a
great primary sponsor like 3M for the next few years.”

In addition to Biffle’s Cup Series program, he is also running a partial
schedule in the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion in the NASCAR
Nationwide Series this season.

“I would like to run another partial schedule in the CitiFinancial Ford
next season,” Biffle said. “We’re still working out the schedule but I
have always had fun racing in the Nationwide Series so I’d say it’s
likely you’ll see me there in 2009.”

I was broadcasting yesterday from Bayside Inn at Alton Bay here in NH and so many folks stopped by to join the broadcast and talk racing. This part of the country has some serious race fans and I love the fact that the Camping world and Modified guys race here too this weekend.

_____________________________________

Oh I got a cool email from a listener named Jason who says there’s a camper here at NH next to him that has a mobile memorial to past stock car racers. Here’s the link to the camper that is taking this memorial across the country – I thought you’d like to see it. Jason, thanks for listening and for the email. Check out the memorial this race fan is taking around the country:
http://www.thecaretaker.ca

More later – gotta run. Duty calls.
Claire B

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BREAKING NEWS- Casey Mears June 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Drivers.
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Casey Mears, driver of the #25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet, talks with owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports during qualifying for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2007 in Avondale, Arizona.Image by Getty Images via DaylifeHey! Quick update. Casey Mears is coming into the media center at 10:30 a.m. here at NH. Here’s the official word on Casey (below) Much Buzz about Mark Martin being the name that slips into that ride but that is unofficial and just what I have been hearing in the garage as the guy who goes into it – I’ll keep you posted. Reality is that it’s a done deal on Casey though and Casey is out. Back to the media center deadline room just wanted to get this to you ASAP. More later from NH.

Claire B


CASEY MEARS & HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO PART WAYS
FOLLOWING 2008 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SEASON

CONCORD, N.C. (June 27, 2008 ) – Hendrick Motorsports and driver Casey Mears will part ways following the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

“We’ve put a ton of emphasis on the No. 5 program,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “It’s been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We’ve tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven’t come.

“None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he’s confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too.”

Mears will finish the 2008 Sprint Cup campaign in Hendrick’s No. 5 Chevrolets.

“I know the effort has been there, but we haven’t had the finishes to show for it,” Mears said. “I’ve never tested this much or put more energy into racing. But for whatever reason, we just haven’t been able to make it click. It’s certainly not for lack of dedication on anyone’s part.

“I’ll talk to people about opportunities and get my 2009 plans wrapped up soon, but I’m also focused on the next 20 races and finishing 2008 on a positive note. We ran well the second half last year, and I know we can do it again. I want to close this season the right way.”

Hendrick Motorsports will announce its 2009 plans at a later date.

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