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June, 13,2002
Final Edition

Engine weight seems real culprit

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Circle Track -- 12 issues

By Ed Hinton
Orlando Sentinal June 13, 2002



 

The "stiff chassis" scare -- which has haunted NASCAR teams through the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Dale Earnhardt -- may be near explanation, if not resolution.

Specifically, the fear was of a "stiff front clip" -- the forward portion of the chassis.

But if Dr. Dean L. Sicking of the University of Nebraska is correct -- and he has scientifically crash-tested more Winston Cup chassis than anyone else -- then the front clip is far too soft, rather than too rigid.

In frontal impacts, the real culprit is the engine, the heaviest and hardest single component of the race car. If there's not sufficient crush material in the nose of the car, then the engine is the first really rigid component to come in contact with the wall. "Whenever the engine impacts the [concrete] barrier in a critical-angle hit like Dale Earnhardt took," Sicking said this week, "that's going to send tremendous Gs into the occupant compartment. And that's a bad thing."

Twelve days after Earnhardt died, with the "stiff front" speculation running wild among crewmen and even some safety experts, Robert Yates, the cerebral team owner who fields Fords for Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd, articulated what he felt was the real problem.

FULL STORY


Michigan important to title chase
By Rupen Fofaria
ESPN.com,June 13th

Sure, Sterling Marlin has won twice this year and Jeff Gordon is in the midst of the longest winless streak of his life. But both are returning to Michigan Speedway -- where they split victories in the the track's two races last year -- looking to charge their respective championship runs.

Unlike last year, when Marlin finished third in the points after his win at Michigan and Gordon finished first, this year Marlin is in first and Gordon is third.

Marlin won twice this year to position himself atop the Winston Cup standings. Gordon, on the other hand, has done it in a manner very uncharacteristic of him: With consistency, not wins.

And though he wants to celebrate a milestone in that consistency -- his 200th top 10 -- he would rather it come along with his first victory of the season. "It will take another run like last year to pick up any points on Sterling here," Gordon said. "I think the key will be getting up front and into clean air. If that happens, I think we should be able to separate ourselves from most of the field. I'd like for that 200th top-10 to be my 59th victory."

If he plans to do this, though, he'll have to stave off Marlin -- who returns to the site of an emotional victory last year. Marlin's victory was criticized because it came in a rain-shortened race at Michigan. But that did not matter to him or Dodge

After returning to the series last year after almost a 20-year hiatus, Marlin's win was Dodge's first since the comeback.

"It meant a lot to everybody involved with our team to win that first race for Dodge," Marlin said. "We'd come close before, and I was determined not to let another one slip through our fingers. It's always big to win at Michigan, and we'd like to go up there this weekend and get another one."

And Marlin believes he's on track to do just that.

FULL STORY


--NASCAR ANNOUNCES PONTIAC, FORD CHANGES

--HENDRICK NAMES NO. 25 CREW CHIEF

--ATWOOD DODGE TO SPORT NEW LOOK

--HERMIE SADLER TO DRIVE FOR DONLAVEY AGAIN

--JARRETT WIN BENEFITS FOUNDATION

-- NASCAR NIXES NEW HAMPSHIRE SOFT WALLS

--TEXAS SUIT PROCEEDS

--NASCAR OKS SOFT WALLS AT INDY

--PARK AND WALTRIP OUT THIS WEEK?

-- NASCAR FINES BUSCH SERIES CREW CHIEF


Earnhardt and Seven Other Inductees Honored Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
PR Newswire
UPDATED 1350hrs, June 13th

As Teresa Earnhardt went on stage to accept her late husband's "Horsepower" statuette for his induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, she spontaneously walked to Dale's famous number three car, which was center stage, and kissed it. She then turned to the audience and asked them, "Don't you just miss him?"
Seven-time Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt, along with seven other honorees, were inducted Wednesday night into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at the State Theater in Detroit.

FULL STORY


SpeedBet


Tough breaks have Labonte reeling
By Monte Dutton
LapByLap

Bobby Labonte, who has won three races and two poles at Michigan International Speedway, is hoping his luck will turn in Sunday’s Sirius 400.

"We have really struggled the last month or so," Labonte said. "We have had some bad luck mixed in with just some bad runs, and that has caused us to fall so far back (20th) in the point standings. It’s been a combination of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - like we were in Talladega and Richmond - and then we had a belt come off in California, which caused us problems, and then a loose wheel at Charlotte.

FULL STORY



A pmember of the John Boy and Billy Radio Network!


 

Stewart relishes being racing's villain

AP
June 13, 2002




Tony Stewart steps forward, waves to the crowd and gets his usual greeting.

"Booooooooooooooo!"

It's just NASCAR fans venting at one of their favorite villains.

But lately, Stewart has been hearing some cheers, too, giving him the feeling that things may be changing.

"The booing isn't as bad as it used to be," he said. "But it's still there."

And that's fine with Stewart, whose next chance to hear the crowd will be Sunday at Michigan Speedway.

"I think if we totally lose the boos, that's got to be a bad sign," he said. "It means we're doing something wrong."

Four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who still gets the big thumbs-down from the crowd, shares that feeling.

"Dale Earnhardt once told me that when they stop booing, you better start worrying," Gordon has said.

FULL STORY


Post-drought Rainbow?
By Jeff Owens
SportsLine.com ,June 13, 2002



Through the first third of NASCAR's Winston Cup season, we've marveled at Sterling Marlin's consistency, how he charged to the top of the points standings with a great start and has stayed there, challenging for his first title at the age of 44.

We've marveled at how NASCAR has again achieved remarkable parity, producing a record pace of 10 different winners in the first 14 races.

And we've marveled at how the sport's young stars have suddenly leaped to the top, with victories by Kurt Busch (age 23) and 20-something rookies Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman energizing a youth movement that has overshadowed nearly every other storyline this year.

Those are all big surprises, of course, but what we should be marveling at is perhaps the most startling development yet: Fourteen races into the season, defending champion Jeff Gordon hasn't won a race yet.

In fact, Gordon hasn't won a race in his past 22 Winston Cup starts, the longest non-winning streak of his career.

When you consider that, it makes the improbable victories by Busch, Johnson and Newman even more amazing.

 

FULL STORY

Guest Columnist's From
Team Racin.com
-- Supercuts……More Than Just a Sponsor
John Ray
-- “Silly Season” is Definitely a Perfect Name
Karen Hart
-- Young Fans and Old Hands!
Ray Toller
-- Is NASCAR’s "Silly Season" Over Hyped?
Lauren
-- Replies to Pocono Rankings
Tim Haddox



Find stuff like this Action Racing Kevin Harvick Goodwrench 2002 1:24 Car in our Raceshop!

Reaction to yesterday's aerodynamic rules change for the Pontiac Grand Prix:
Motorsport.com

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"We appreciate the changes that they made today and hope that it will help us out, and make us a little better than we have been because we've been struggling some in that department. Maybe it will make us race better. We'll find out in a few days at Michigan."
JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"I'm happy we got something, but it's a typical deal. We didn't get quite as much as we probably needed and all that we asked for, but it's better than nothing.

FULL STORY


SpeedBet


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Junior to drive RCR number 3 in 2003?

By Greg Engle
A&J Racing
June 10, 2002


Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having let’s just say , a streak colder than a can of Budweiser from the fridge of late. Now, behind the scenes rumors are brewing (no pun intended) that Junior is looking for a way out. A way out of his contract at DEI, the team founded by his late father. At first these rumors seemed to have simply appeared in thin air. But on further examination, I’ve found that what seems to be talk of a disgruntled driver on a cold streak, might actually be part of a larger plan.

A plan to Dale Earnhardt Junior in the car his father made famous, the Goodwrench Chevy, carrying the number 3 at Richard Childress Racing.

All the elements are there: Kevin Harvick is having less than a sterling season, Junior is in a slump and rumors of a shake-up at DEI have been brewing for weeks.. And while the DEI rumors concern Park and Waltrip, the actual shake-up will occur with the flagship team. Teresa Earnhardt, boss lady at DEI assured Steve Park before Dover that his ride was secure and that she was not selling the team., a sale that was rumored several weeks ago. It’s also no big secret that Richard Childress as been working closely with DEI this year and with his own drivers performing poorly a major driver swap is certainly in the works.

A swap that would put Harvick in the number 8 and Junior in the number 3..

This is not to say that anyone’s “slump” is intentional, no one planned for these poor performances, but now that these drivers are there, the plan is to “seize the moment” and take advantage of the timing.

Junior himself helped to fan the fire this weekend after his 12th place showing at Pocono when he was asked if he would consider driving for another team, Earnhardt said, "I’ve definitely thought about it. Who doesn’t? I’ve wondered what it would be like to drive someone else’s stuff”.

The question then becomes, and this is pure speculation on my part mind you, Is this part of a larger behind the scenes plan? A plan orchestrated by the team’s “spin doctors” to improve the performance of everyone involved?

A source at RCR who wishes to remain anonymous hinted that it is. Richard Childress wants to bring back the number 3, the car that brought RCR to the top of NASCAR . In a story in USA Today, last week, Childress said that there is a new Chevy on the way. And at that time sources reported that this would signal the return of the legendary number 3 to Winston Cup racing in the 2003 season.

And now the elements are coming together that would put an Earnhardt in the drivers seat of that number 3 in 2003.

Chipping away: Ganassi making mark
Sportsline
June 13




Sterling Marlin remembers the day two years ago when he thought he'd be out of work. Car owner Felix Sabates was losing tons of money and there was talk the team would fold.

Just when he thought he needed to look for a new job, Chip Ganassi rescued the fledgling organization -- and Marlin's career.

"I was talking to Felix and his wife was on him about spending all his money on his race team and he thought he was probably going to have to sell everything off and I was going to have to start looking for another ride," Marlin remembered. "Two weeks later, Chip was in town and was buying into the team, and we've been capable of winning races every single week since."

It's hard to believe a change of ownership could reverse fortune so quickly, but the ultra-successful Ganassi -- he has won four championships as a car owner in the CART series -- has made it happen in one of auto racing's toughest divisions in a relatively short period of time.

Marlin heads into the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway leading the Winston Cup points race. He's got two wins this season and four overall for Ganassi after going winless in three seasons with Sabates as the sole owner.

In the first year under Ganassi, Marlin came out of the gates strong by winning a non-points race during activities surrounding the season-opening Daytona 500. He secured his first points victory at Michigan in August, giving Dodge its first victory in its return to .

That was a banner day for Ganassi, who pulled off a double when Bruno Junqueria won the CART race to help Ganassi join Roger Penske as the only car owners to win races in and CART on the same day.

Marlin, who had finished 19th in the series standings in Sabates' final year as sole team owner, wound up third in the points last season with two victories, proving Ganassi could find the formula to succeed in any series.

FULL STORY

 

Stock Car Racing Magazine

Rudd isn't out of gas yet
Roger Kuznia
The Sporting News

Ricky Rudd recently became NASCAR's ironman for breaking the mark for most consecutive starts, but it hasn't shielded him from absolutely brutal luck this season.

Rudd has had cars good enough to win three of the last four races, but unforeseen circumstances cost him in each case.

While leading with just six laps to go last weekend at Pocono, Rudd was passed by teammate Dale Jarrett after the right rear tire on the No. 28 car slowly lost pressure. It eventually put Rudd into the wall on the final lap, and he finished 17th after leading the most laps of any competitor on the day.

"We were just sitting there, biding our time, waiting and watching the laps count down and watching that rearview mirror, and keeping that space with DJ back there," Rudd told reporters after the race. "It looked like we had him."

At Dover, a loose lug nut on the final pit stop cost Rudd a shot at passing leader Jimmie Johnson, who elected to stay out during that final caution. And while leading at Richmond with less than 100 laps to go, Rudd wrecked when Rusty Wallace lost control of his car because of a cut tire.

All of this makes you wonder if Rudd's frustration is at a level where he'll want to retire at the end of the year. Last month he spoke of how he was seriously considering packing it in, and he has given owner Robert Yates a deadline of July 15 to announce his intentions. Even if he decides to come back, he has said he wants to sign a series of one-year contracts and evaluate his situation after each season.

FULL STORY


Hi everyone! Welcome to the new site!
I've been working hard on this site and this idea
And would REALLY love to have some feedback from you.
Would you PLEASE take just a moment to fill out a short survey concerning this site?
I want to make this YOUR site for NASCAR news so your help is vital to me!
CLICK HERE FOR THE SURVEY!
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And a BIG thanks to everyone for all the
VERY postive response I've gotten so far!!


Guest Columnists from:

-- Fantasy Racing News Weekly / Pocono 500
A.J. Caccia
-- AND WE GO BOOGEDY BOOGEDY BOOGEDY AGAIN
Don Smith
-- HOW TO ATTRACT FANS TO NASCAR
Pammy
-- Some Things Never Seem to Change
Don Smith
-- Championship Race
Terry Johnson
-- Replies to Charlotte Rankings
Tim Haddox
-- Fantasy Racing News Weekly / MBNA Platinum 400
A.J. Caccia
-- Rankings for Dover Downs
Tim Haddox



NOTES FROM THE TRACK AND AROUND THE WEB:

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NASCAR ANNOUNCES PONTIAC, FORD CHANGES

NASCAR today announced aerodynamic changes for Pontiacs and Fords. Effective with this Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio 400 Pontiacs in the Winston Cup Series will have a half-inch increase to the front air dam and a quarter-inch spoiler increase. The Pontiac spoiler will remain unchanged at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Meanwhile, NASCAR said Fords competing in the July 6 Pepsi 400 at Daytona will run spoilers measuring 5 7/8 inches, down from the 6 inches they ran at Talladega in April but up from the 5 3/4 they ran at Daytona in February.

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TEXAS SUIT PROCEEDS
The lawsuit filed by a Speedway Motorsports shareholder who hopes to force NASCAR to award another Winston Cup race to Texas Motor Speedway is advancing, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says. Attorneys for Francis Ferko of Plano, Texas, yesterday filed a response disputing NASCAR's April 10 motion to dismiss the suit in U.S. District Court. The story says NASCAR has until later this month to reply to Ferko's response, after which a hearing could be convened.

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NASCAR OKS SOFT WALLS AT INDY
NASCAR disclosed today that a modified version of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier system will be used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Aug. 4 Brickyard 400 Winston Cup race, ThatsRacing.com says. Dr. Dean Sicking, who developed the barriers for the Indy Racing League, says the SAFER system at Indy will have an additional energy absorbing unit installed every 10 feet because stock cars, which weigh 3,400 pounds, are much heavier than the IRL's 1,500-pound open-wheel racers. The SAFER system debuted in this year's Indianapolis 500 and was tested several times when drivers hit the walls in practice and the race. But NASCAR Senior Vice President George Pyne said more development will be needed before the sanctioning body will allow other tracks to use the system. Sicking and Pyne were featured on a NASCAR teleconference today.

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PARK AND WALTRIP OUT THIS WEEK?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be looking for two new teammates next season, if not sooner.

He said Saturday that Michael Waltrip has been informed that Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- the race team founded by his late father -- is looking at a possible replacement.

``His job is in his hands, so to speak,'' Earnhardt said of Waltrip. ``It's been a tough situation over the past several weeks for us. We tried to deal with it as best we can.''

The 39-year-old Waltrip is in his 18th season in a Winston Cup car. He has only one victory -- the 2001 Daytona 500, on the day the elder Earnhardt was killed -- in 511 starts.

Also in jeopardy of losing his ride is Steve Park, who sat out most of last season and the first four races this year with a head injury.

``It's not going too good right now for Steve,'' Earnhardt said. ``They can't get their cars to do what they need them to do.

``We're definitely going to have to take a hard look at that situation, too. If we can't make it work, we've got to make a change, and nobody is immune to change.

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ATWOOD DODGE TO SPORT NEW LOOK

Ultra/Evernham Motorsports' No. 7 Dodge driven by Casey Atwood in the Winston Cup Series will sport a new look at this weekend's Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan. The car sponsored by Sirius will trade its Dog Star hood design for a series of music celebrities, beginning this weekend with the four members of the Latin singing group Soluna. Other recording artists are expected to be featured at other races this season.

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MARTIN TO DRIVE ROUSH TRUCK

The Las Vegas Sun says Mark Martin will drive the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next year until Kyle Busch turns 18 years old and becomes old enough to pick up the ride again. Busch, a Las Vegas teen, drove the truck in six races last season before NASCAR ruled that drivers in all of its touring series had to be at least 18. Busch, who turned 17 on May 2, has been driving in the American Speed Association this season. The story says Martin agreed to drive the truck to help the team gain owners points until Busch becomes eligible to take over.

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3 TO DOUBLE AT SEARS POINT
Sears Point Raceway says NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Robby Gordon, Jeff Green and Kevin Harvick will pull double-duty as they compete in both the Dodge/Save Mart 350 Winston Cup race and the Snap-on Tools/Jelly Belly 200 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series events on the weekend of June 20-23.

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MICHIGAN ENDS BEER SALES SO FANS MAY BRING OWN
Michigan International Speedway says race fans who want to drink beer will have to bring their own. The Brooklyn, Mich., facility says it is ending sales after the state's Liquor Control Commission decided race fans could either bring their own alcohol or could buy it on-site but could not do both. "To comply with the Liquor Commission's recent interpretation of this law and considering what is in the best interest of its guests, MIS has made the decision to allow its guests to continue to bring their own alcoholic beverages through its grandstand ticket gates," a track announcement says. "Consequently, for 2002, MIS vendors will no longer be able to sell alcoholic beverages at any of the facility's concession stands."

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CREW CHIEF LEAVES HAMILTON TRUCK
Bobby Hamilton Racing says crew chief Danny Gill has left its No. 18 team of Robert Pressley in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Team owner Hamilton says Todd Myers, who has been with TKO Motorsports, will fill in as crew chief, starting this weekend with the O'Reilly 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Pressley is seventh in the championship after the first six races of the season.

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JARRETT WIN BENEFITS FOUNDATION

Dale Jarrett's victory in the Pocono 500 Sunday has drawn a $10,000 donation from Ford Credit to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to help fight the disease. Ford Credit, an associate sponsor of Yates Racing's No. 88 Ford, gives the Komen Foundation $10,000 for each of Jarrett's victories, $7,500 for each second-place finish, $5,000 for each third-place finish and $5,000 for each pole position won. Ford Credit has now donated $595,000 to the Komen Foundation based on Jarrett's on-track performance and end-of-season bonuses since 1998.

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TEAM MANAGER LEAVES MORGAN-MCCLURE

Morgan-McClure Motorsports says that Scott Eggleston has left the team just one week after being named team manager for the No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Mike Skinner. The team did not announce a replacement.

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Brett Bodine says Buddy Sisco has taken over as the crew chief of Bodine's No. 11 Ford, following the departure of Doug Richert. Sisco, 40, has been shop manager.

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The BAM Motorsports team announced it was utilizing its valuable time to conduct additional wind-tunnel testing for the July 6 Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

Oh, by the way, Shawna Robinson will not compete at Michigan in a couple of weeks while the Dodge team conducts its additional wind-tunnel research.

In other words, the wind-tunnel bit is probably an upbeat way to announce the team is not competing, as announced earlier, at Michigan.

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HENDRICK NAMES NO. 25 CREW CHIEF

Hendrick Motorsports today named Brian Pattie to be the crew chief of its No. 25 Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek for the remainder of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Pattie, a 27-year-old Floridian who had worked as Nemechek's crew chief in the NASCAR Busch Series, replaces interim crew chief Ken Howes, who is returning to his role as Hendrick Motorsports' director of competition.

 

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NASCAR FINES BUSCH SERIES CREW CHIEF

NASCAR has fined Tim Shutt, crew chief of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Pontiac driven by Mike McLaughlin in the NASCAR Busch Series, $1,000 after the car was found to have an unapproved front spring when it qualified for Saturday's Inside Traxx 300 at Nashville Superspeedway. McLaughlin qualified and started eighth but wound up finishing 33rd after a crash brought on by a cut tire.

 

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NASCAR NIXES NEW HAMPSHIRE SOFT WALLS
The Concord (N.H.) Monitor says NASCAR officials have told New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre that more work needs to be done before he'll be allowed to install soft-wall technology. As a result, no change will be made to the track before the July 23 New England 300 Winston Cup race. Today's newspaper says NASCAR officials informed Bahre of their decision last week that they won't allow the technology used at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to be installed until improvements have been made to the system. "It definitely won't be ready for the first race, and it may not be for the second (Sept. 15)," Bahre said. Bahre told the paper that he will not install the walls, which will cost about $300,000, until NASCAR gives its OK.

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HERMIE SADLER TO DRIVE FOR DONLAVEY AGAIN

Donlavey Racing team owner Junie Donlavey says Hermie Sadler will again sub for Rick Mast in the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 Winston Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. Because Sadler is also scheduled to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series' Kroger 300 on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, there had been speculation Donlavey might have to find another driver. Sadler has subbed for Mast in the past three races while doctors try to figure out what has been ailing him.

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DERRIKE COPE PLANS MORE RACES
Derrike Cope says he may be adding more races to his part-time Winston Cup campaign. On his Web site, Cope says: "We just got back from a test in Michigan where things finally have gone pretty well. We had a great test and feel like we have made some headway. So we are going to Michigan next, and it looks like possibly Chicago, the second Pocono race and Indy." Cope, however, says he doesn't have a sponsor yet for this weekend's Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan.

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BUCKSHOT PLANNING RETURN?
Buckshot Jones, who started the season as the driver of Petty Enterprises' No. 44 Dodge before losing the Winston Cup ride in April, has posted a very brief note on his Web site that says he will "make a big announcement by the end of June." Jones has told NASCAR Winston Cup Scene that he has a sponsor and has talked with seven or eight teams about driving but won't return unless it's with a competitive team.

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CHANGES FOR PETTY TEAMS

Brandon Thomas took over this weekend as crew chief for John Andretti, one of two major changes at Petty Enterprises. Greg Steadman moved from Andretti's Dodge to become Steve Grissom's crew chief.

Robin Pemberton, vice president and general manager for Petty Enterprises, worked with Thomas when they were with Rusty Wallace's team.

``I've seen him with a lot of racers, and he will fit in great with our people,'' Pemberton said. ``His race experience and background will be a big plus for Petty Enterprises.''

CEO Kyle Petty, who drives a third car for the team, feels fortunate that car owner Joe Gibbs and crew chief Jimmy Makar permitted engineer Thomas to move from their team, because he was under contract to them.

Still Petty made light of it, alluding to Gibbs' past as a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Washington Redskins.

``Coach Gibbs kept asking for a first-round draft choice in 2003 to get the deal done,'' Petty quipped.

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The Wood brothers have finally given driver Elliott Sadler his release from the last year of his contract with them, leaving Sadler free to sign with another team for 2003. And, according to sources close to Sadler, he has already signed a new contract with Robert Yates to replace Ricky Rudd in Yates' legendary No. 28. Sadler, Yates and Rudd all had no official comment.

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NASCAR officials have confirmed talks with Toyota about what Toyota would have to do in order to compete on the truck tour next season. That effort is seen as a preliminary move toward an eventual move to the Winston Cup tour in 2005. .

The V-8 Toyota that would have to build to race in NASCAR would, like the current Dodge Cup engine, be a purpose-built racing engine designed to meet NASCAR specifications, similar either to the Ford V-8 or the Chevy V-8.

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Jimmy Spencer says he was pleased with his recent NASCAR test at Kansas City of the proposed new "bigger greenhouse/lower aerodynamics" Winston Cup car: "I think it's really good. I think it's a step in the right direction. The roll cage is wider and higher, and the roof is wider and higher. The car doesn't look a whole lot different until you get up close to it. But, boy, what an improvement in our aero problems. It's still just a start, but we can't keep racing the way we've been racing, in my opinion. A perfect example was last week - Jimmie Johnson had the best car, but when he got stuck back in traffic he couldn't do anything. That's aero.

"The (new) rules package NASCAR has (proposed for next season) is definitely a step in the right direction, according to our preliminary tests. It's a lot more fun to drive. You can start putting in the coil springs you need, and there are things you can do to the car to let the driver drive the car. Now it's if you're off a little bit, you have to fix the aero.".

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Johnny Sauter's head injury last month still has car owner Richard Childress worried about his Busch driver. .

"They say he could have a post-concussion syndrome," Childress said. "There's something definitely off there, because he ran too good earlier in the season and too good last year, and since the California race we just haven't been on it.".

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Car owner Cal Wells confirms he's working on adding a second team to his operation, and he says it all depends on how well Ricky Craven performs. Craven has been a hot driver recently, finishing third in the Coca Cola 600 last weekend.

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Much is being made of the current generation gap between NASCAR's 20-somethings and the 40-somethings. But Jon Wood, one of the promising up-and-comers on the truck tour, says that's nothing: last season Wood, at 19, was matched against legendary Herschell McGriff, 74, at California, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Kansas City. McGriff, who started the first Southern 500 and whose six decades of racing alone should make him a Hall of Fame candidate, finally retired earlier this year.

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For the second time in just over a year, Bobby Labonte has had to dispel rumors or his death, and the 2000 Winston Cup champion isn't happy about having to deal with such reports. "I am very upset and disappointed to see this happen again...," Labonte said yesterday, at the end of a week that had seen his family cope with the death of his father-in-law. "This makes me very angry. I would think someone would want to have all the correct information before either reporting it or saying anything to anyone else and contributing to the 'rumor mill,' but I guess we don't live in that type of society anymore. Everyone just wants to be the first to report something no matter if there is truth to it or not."

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Sears Point Raceway says Mario Andretti will serve as grand marshal of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup race on June 23. Andretti drove in the first -- and only -- Indy car race at Sears Point Raceway in 1970. It was Andretti's only competitive appearance at Sears Point, but he will return for the Winston Cup weekend as the facility unveils the results of its two-year $50 million modernization project.

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LAST RACE


Pocono 500
Winner:Dale Jarrett
Average speed of winner: 143.426 mph.
Time of race: 3 hours, 29 minutes, 10 seconds.
Margin of victory: 0.326 seconds.
Caution flags: 5 for 17 laps.
Lead changes: 17 among 12 drivers.

Pocono 500 results MBNA Platinum 400 Results Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 Results

POINTS:
(After Pocono 400 14of 36)

Rank/Movement since last race/Driver/ Behind
1 -- Sterling Marlin 2064 Leader
2 -- Jimmie Johnson* 1928 -136
3 -- Jeff Gordon 1899 -165
4 +2 Mark Martin 1852 -212
5 -- Rusty Wallace 1826 -238
6 +1 Tony Stewart 1820 -244
7 -3 Matt Kenseth 1794 -270
8 +2 Ricky Rudd 1728 -336
9 +2 Jeff Burton 1706 -358
10 -2 Kurt Busch 1699 -365



NEXT:
Sirus Radio 400
Where:



When: June 16th
Time: 1:00 p.m.(EST)
TV:
WINSTON CUP QUALIFYING 3 p.m. (EDT) Friday FSN
BUSCH SERIES KROGER 300 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday FX
WINSTON CUP SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO 400 12:30 p.m. Sunday Fox
Times and stations are subject to change


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