* Nothing like experience: Urban Youth Racing School interns learning the racing ropes * Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 21 * History lesson: Lowe's Motor Speedway rich in all-star history NEWS AND NOTES On-The-Job...
* Nothing like experience: Urban Youth Racing School interns learning the racing ropes
* Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 21
* History lesson: Lowe's Motor Speedway rich in all-star history
NEWS AND NOTES
On-The-Job Learning: Urban Youth Racing School Interns at Work ... There are few better career previews than internships, and four young people with the Philadelphia-based Urban Youth Racing School have that opportunity this week. Sponsored by Craftsman, the week-long learning experience pairs young people with various outlets in motorsports -- Goodyear, the NASCAR Research and Development Center, NASCAR Scene and Speed Channel.
This year's UYRS interns are Stephanie Hartfield, 18, from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; Taj Muhammad, 17, Jason Simmons, 17, and Carnell Robinson, 18, all from Philadelphia, Pa. They'll work in the Charlotte, N.C. area offices of their outlets early this week, then follow with at-track learning Thursday and Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Using the context of their outlet, the UYRS interns will see what goes on behind-the-scenes for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
Hatfield is working with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series inspectors. Roberts is working with Goodyear. Muhammad is working with SPEED Channel and Simmons is working with NASCAR Scene.
The Urban Youth Racing School is a component of NASCAR's diversity initiative.
NASCAR Day Is Almost Here ... It's the second annual nationwide celebration of NASCAR spirit, to be observed this year on Friday, May 20. A $5 charitable donation reaps participants a commemorative pin, plus the option to wear their favorite NASCAR-themed gear to work that day. All proceeds benefit Speediatrics, Victory Junction Gang Camp and Speedway Children's Charities. Nearly 2,000 companies nationwide have pledged their support and pins are available at NASCAR.com, all AutoZone stores and southeastern SunTrust Bank branches. As of May 16, the offices of 25 governors were expected to make official proclamations of May 20 as NASCAR Day in their states.
Mark Your Calendars: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge ... Saturday's 21st annual all-star event at Lowe's Motor Speedway is only days away and defending champion Matt Kenseth leads the list of qualifiers. He's followed by 2004 race winners Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Kurt Busch (No. Sharpie/IRWIN Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford), Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford), Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge); 2005 race winners Carl Edwards (No. 99 Scotts Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge); past event champions Terry Labonte (1999) and Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) (1996); and past series champions Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) and Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford).
Here's a rundown of the format and eligibility requirements:
• The 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge showcases race winners from the previous and current seasons, plus past event champions and series champions from the past 10 years (1995-2005) who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the 2004 or 2005 season. Also eligible:
• The winner of the NEXTEL Open, a preliminary event for teams not qualified for the all-star event, and another NEXTEL Open driver who wins a fan vote into the all-star event.
• To qualify for the NEXTEL Open event, drivers must be in the Top 50 of the final 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, or in the Top 50 of the current point standings as of March 14.
• The all-star evening begins with the 30-lap NEXTEL Open. The winner, plus the winner of the fan vote, will transfer to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge -- a 90-lap/135-mile event divided into 40-, 30- and 20-lap segments.
• No driver will be eliminated after the first two segments. But during the 10-minute pit stop between the first and second segments, a random drawing will determine whether as few as six or as many as 12 cars will be inverted.
Marlin Hands Out Hardware ... Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) will serve as a presenter at tonight's 40th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The CMA awards show begins at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Dodge gets first win; Chevrolet, Ford Still Tied Atop Series Manufacturers Standings ... After 11 races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, Dodge got its first victory of 2005 last Saturday thanks to Kasey Kahne's win at Richmond. Chevrolet and Ford remain tied for the lead in the series' Manufacturers Championship standings, with Dodge running third. Chevrolet retains a slight edge (79-75) in points. ... Chevrolet has won the Manufacturers Championship 28 times while Ford has won 15 times; the other 10 years the championship has been awarded, it has been won by Hudson (3), Dodge (2), Buick (2), Oldsmobile (1), Pontiac (1) and Plymouth (1). ... Points are earned thusly: Nine points to the highest-finishing car type; six points to the second-highest finishing type; four points for the third-highest finishing type. ... Chevrolet has won the championship the last two years. ... Jimmie Johnson is currently the leading Chevrolet driver, as the series point leader. Biffle, second in points, is the top Ford driver. Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) is the leading Dodge driver, ninth in the points.
On the Right Track
• Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with three all-star wins.
• Gordon's team owner, Rick Hendrick, leads all active drivers with five all-star wins.
Owner Points Update: Top 35 Heading to Richmond ... Beginning in 2005, teams outside the top 35 in owner championship points must qualify on speed for each week's 43 starting spots. The top 35 designation guarantees a spot. Beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 and running through the Bristol race on April 3, the top 35 in 2004 owner points was the yardstick. Beginning with the Martinsville race on April 10, the current top 35 became the yardstick.
From the Archives: Darrell Waltrip Wins First All-Star Event ... NASCAR's annual all-star event was established in 1985. That first NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge took place on May 25, 1985, a 70-lap race that featured 12 competitors. The prerequisite was wins from the 1984 season, and the then-defending champion, Terry Labonte, started on the pole.
Darrell Waltrip, who had seven wins in 1984, started on the outside pole. He led the first 19 laps. Labonte took the lead on the backstretch during Lap 19 to earn a $10,000 bonus for leading Lap 20.
During the mandatory pit stop between Laps 30 and 40. Harry Gant pitted first. He held a 2.7-second lead after everyone had pitted, with Labonte and Waltrip running second and third, respectively. Gant, who was driving a Hal Needham--owned Chevrolet, earned the second $10,000 bonus offered for leading Lap 55. He still led by over three seconds on Lap 60. Waltrip, who had moved into second place, seemed content until team owner Junior Johnson offered a little inspiration via radio.
"He asked me if I wanted the $75,000 (prize for second place) or the $200,000 (for winning)," Waltrip said. "I decided to give it all I had because I wanted the 200 grand."
Gant had the most tire wear due to early pitting. Waltrip took the lead on Lap 68, coming to the white flag (which signifies the last lap). Pre-race, his crew had warned Waltrip to baby his engine because it wasn't set up for longevity. Sure enough, Waltrip's engine blew up as he took the checkered flag, winning by a margin of 0.31-second over Gant.
Labonte finished third with Cale Yarborough and Tim Richmond finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
On Deck: Lowe's Motor Speedway ... Race No. 12 on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule will be Sunday, May 29 -- the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Lowe's, a 1.5-mile oval, has been part of the schedule since 1960 when the race winner was J.L. Johnson. ... Jimmie Johnson is defending champion; he also was last year's polesitter.
The race: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge (non-points event).
The track: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C. (1.5-mile oval.)
The date/time: Saturday, May 21, 7:30 p.m. (ET).
TV: FX, 7 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $3,216,700.
Race length: 90 laps, 130 miles.
Track layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
2004 winner: Matt Kenseth.
2004 polesitter: Rusty Wallace.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 1,562. 2. Greg Biffle 1,521. 3. Jeff Gordon 1,438. 4. Elliott Sadler 1,413. 5. Kurt Busch 1,407. 6. Tony Stewart 1,397. 7. Ryan Newman 1,370. 8. Kevin Harvick 1,364. 9. Jamie McMurray 1,351. 10. Mark Martin 1,344.