* Calling all Moms: Track officials, drivers and teams to honor theirs on Mother's Day Eve * Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 20 * History lesson: Darlington Raceway a magnet for all varieties of stock-car racing NEWS AND...
* Calling all Moms: Track officials, drivers and teams to honor theirs on Mother's Day Eve
* Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 20
* History lesson: Darlington Raceway a magnet for all varieties of stock-car racing
NEWS AND NOTES
Honoring Moms: Track, teams plan Mother's Day Observances ... Darlington Raceway officials and many NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers plan to honor the sport's mothers this weekend. Saturday night's Dodge Charger 500 leaves Sunday, May 8 -- this year's Mother's Day holiday -- free to spend with mom. Still, track officials are yielding Saturday's traditional starting command duties to a group of drivers' mothers.
Together, these moms will say, "Sons, start your engines!" rather than, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Scheduled to participate thus far are Jeff Gordon's (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) mother, Carol Bickford; Tony Stewart's (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) mother, Pam Boas; Ryan Newman's (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) mother, Diane Newman; Dale Jarrett's (No. 88 UPS Ford) mother, Martha Jarrett; Kyle Petty's mother, Lynda Petty; Brian Vickers' (No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet) mother, Ramona Vickers; and Scott Riggs' (No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet) mother, Susie Nolff.
Kyle Petty is taking an extra step: An image of Lynda Petty will adorn his car, along with a suitable shade of pink.
"It's important to honor all the mothers in the sport," Petty said. "They have given so much of their time, and given so much support to let us do what we love to do. I feel pretty honored to have my mom on the side of my car this weekend."
Mark Your Calendars: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge ... The 21st annual all-star event is just over a month away, and defending champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) leads the list of current qualifiers. He's followed by 2004 race winners Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Travelodge Ford), Kurt Busch (No. Sharpie/IRWIN Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford), Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford), Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge); 2005 race winners Carl Edwards (No. 99 Scotts Ford) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet); 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.
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, 2005.
• 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.
Milestone Marker ... Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) is scheduled to make his 650th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start on Saturday.
Back in Front: Chevrolet Re-Takes Lead in Series Manufacturers Standings ... After nine races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, Chevrolet has edged ahead of Ford in the series' Manufacturers Championship standings, with Dodge running third. Jeff Gordon's victory last Sunday at Talladega allowed Chevrolet to take the lead in both wins (five) and points (67). ... 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. Busch, second in points, is the top Ford driver. Jamie McMurray is the leading Dodge driver, standing 10th in the points.
On the Right Track
• Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six wins at Darlington.
• Hendrick Motorsports teams have won four of the last five races at Darlington. Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 11 Darlington victories.
• Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Ken Schrader lead all active drivers with three Bud Poles each at Darlington.
• Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) has seven top-10 finishes in 21 races at Darlington.
Owner Points Update: Top 35 Heading to Darlington ... 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: Convertible Racing Just One of Darlington's Legacies ... Spring seems an appropriate time for new beginnings, and so it was in the spring of 1962 at Darlington Raceway. That event was the final time convertibles competed in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event. The original NASCAR Convertible Division was formed in 1956 and competed through 1959. Bob Welborn was "king of the ragtops," taking three of the four division championships. Then-Darlington Raceway President Bob Colvin chose to have the convertibles continue to compete in his 300-mile spring race, originally a convertible event established in 1957.
That historic 1962 race saw 32 cars take the green flag. Fred Lorenzen sat on the pole in a Holman-Moody Ford. Fireball Roberts was on the outside pole in a Banjo Matthews Pontiac. Roberts led the first lap, but an accident with Joe Weatherly knocked him out of the race on Lap 4. Weatherly eventually finished 18th. Lorenzen led Laps 2 through 52 before he was penalized a lap for passing the pace car during a caution period.
David Pearson put Ray Fox's Pontiac up front for 56 laps. Darel Dieringer also led for 17 laps in Bob Osiecki's Dodge. Lorenzen, meanwhile, made up his lap and took the lead at Lap 128 for 20 laps. Lorenzen's teammate, Nelson Stacy, took the lead on Lap 148, holding it for 14 laps until relinquishing it to Marvin Panch.
When the white flag flew for Panch, Stacy made a daring final push for the lead going into Turn 3 -- the same move Stacy had made on Panch in the 1961 Southern 500, the previous event, and the results were the same. Stacy won, with Panch finishing second. Lorenzen finished third after flipping his Ford in a last-lap tangle with Cotton Owens.
On Deck: Richmond International Raceway ... Race No. 11 on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule will be Saturday, May 14 -- the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Richmond, a three-quarters mile oval, has been part of the schedule since 1953 when the race winner was Lee Petty. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. is defending champion; Brian Vickers was last year's polesitter.
The race: Dodge Charger 500. (Race No. 10 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
The track: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C. (1.366-mile oval.)
The date/time: Saturday, May 7, 7:10 p.m. (ET).
TV: FOX, 7 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $5,338,043.
Race length: 367 laps, 500 miles.
Track layout: 1.366-mile oval.
2004 winner: Jimmie Johnson
2004 polesitter: Kasey Kahne.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 1,368. 2. Kurt Busch 1,238. 3. Jeff Gordon 1,217. 4. Greg Biffle 1,181. 5. Elliott Sadler 1,164. 6. Tony Stewart 1,088. 7. Dale Jarrett 1,085. 8. Kevin Harvick 1,083. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,070. 10. Jamie McMurray 1,067.