Garage Chatter: The Banquet

Gordon hospitalized: Four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon was hospitalized this week with a severe case of the flu. The illness forced Gordon to be a no-show for several events including the Media Luncheon and Myers Brothers...

Gordon hospitalized: Four-time Cup series champion Jeff Gordon was hospitalized this week with a severe case of the flu. The illness forced Gordon to be a no-show for several events including the Media Luncheon and Myers Brothers Breakfast.

Gordon was hoping to be well enough to attend the NEXTEL awards ceremony Friday evening. He did, however, cancel his plans to compete in the Race of Champions in Paris, France which he was scheduled to leave for directly after the banquet.

RCR makes it official: Richard Childress Racing has confirmed that Dave Blaney will drive a No. 07 Jack Daniels sponsored Chevrolet next season. Philippe Lopez will serve as crew chief.

Kahne the new face of Avon: Kasey Kahne has been signed to represent Avon's men's line of grooming products.

Kahne is the NEXTEL Cup series Rookie of the Year and driver of the No. 9 Evernham Dodge.

Earnhardt wins Most Popular Driver: For the second consecutive year fans voted Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the Most Popular Driver. Earnhardt was presented the award sponsored by Grands Biscuits at the National Motorsports Press Associations Myers Brothers Breakfast Friday morning at the Waldorf- Astoria.

"It was fun to win it last year, but to get two in a row really means a lot to me," said Earnhardt Jr. "I've learned this year about how loyal and supportive my fans are. My team had our best season ever, but we also had a lot of trouble along the way, including my injuries.

"I used to worry about losing my fans after a bad race or two, but I found out this year the fans really got behind me when I needed it the most. It's a big compliment to have that many fans voting for me and letting me know they're supportive and loyal no matter what."

Andrews to Hendrick: Chris Andrews has left the No. 31 team at Richard Childress Racing. He will serve as crew chief for the No. 91 Dodge of Bill Elliott at Evernham Motorsports next season.

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