NEWS & NOTES On the NASCAR Bubble: Big changes, high stakes ... Thanks to a third straight top-10 finish -- this time at Pocono -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) remains the closest NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 pursuer. He...
NEWS & NOTES
On the NASCAR Bubble: Big changes, high stakes ... Thanks to a third straight top-10 finish -- this time at Pocono -- Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) remains the closest NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 pursuer. He stands 11th, 40 points behind 10th-place Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings. Mayfield's Evernham Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), sits a mere 29 points behind Mayfield; his third-place Pocono finish boosted him two spots to 12th. And Mark Martin's (No. 6 Viagra Ford) runner-up finish at Pocono behind NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 leader and race winner Jimmie Johnson allowed him to keep pace with Kahne. Martin also jumped two spots, to 13th. Meanwhile, Dale Jarrett, who'd streaked into bubble contention during June and July, fell two spots to 14th after finishing 24th at Pocono. Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline Dodge) also dropped two spots -- to 15th -- after engine problems limited him to a 30th-place finish at Pocono.
Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10; Cruising time for JJ ... Nothing like a win to reaffirm dominance. Last week's Pocono victory not only gave Jimmie Johnson the season sweep at the Pennsylvania track, it marked his sixth top-five finish in his last seven starts and a series-high 14th overall this season. Oh, yeah, it also extended his lead in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 to a sixth consecutive week. And the 232-point distance between Johnson and second-place Jeff Gordon is the largest cushion of any top-ranked driver this season. ... Notice the second-place reference to Gordon? His fifth-place finish at Pocono coupled with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) second consecutive finish outside the top 20 allowed Gordon to leapfrog Earnhardt Jr. for that spot. ... Ryan Newman made the weekend's biggest move, from 10th place to eighth place, while Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) took the biggest tumble, falling from seventh to ninth place.
NASCAR Day just two weeks away ... Pin collectors and others with stock-car affinities have an unprecedented opportunity to go public with their passions. Thanks to the inaugural NASCAR Day on Aug. 20, participants can show their spirit in the workplace, plus reap some charitable benefits. Here's how to do it: In exchange for a $5 donation to Victory Junction Gang Camp, all NASCAR DAY participants will receive a commemorative pin and the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR gear to work on Friday, Aug. 20. To date, 368 companies in 39 states and Canada have signed up. The state of North Carolina leads with 53 participating companies, followed by Pennsylvania with 29 and Florida with 23. Over 40,000 individuals have signed up through NASCAR.com and at-track sales. For more NASCAR Day information, visit www.nascar.com/nascarday, or call 1-866-305-4702.
Elliott Sadler wins off the track ... Recognition isn't why Elliott Sadler supports the Autism Society of America and the Victory Junction Gang Camp, among other causes. But his effort on behalf of both organizations has landed him a much-deserved honor -- as the 2004 Second Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year.
Sadler's recent "Race for Hope," raised over $86,000 for both organizations. Held in May, at a Charlotte, N.C.-area go-kart track, the fan-friendly event included Elliott's brother, Hermie, Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet), Darrell Waltrip, Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray, Richard Petty, Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge), Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge), Jimmie Johnson and current NASCAR Busch Series points leader Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Long John Silvers Chevrolet).
"It's an honor to be the winner of the Second Quarter voting for USG Person of the Year," said Sadler, who also visits with autistic children at tracks during the season. "Race for Hope" was a huge success and was a fun event for the drivers, media and most importantly the fans. We have worked hard over the past few years to increase autism awareness. My niece, Halie Dru, was diagnosed with autism and as a family we've been doing everything we can to create more awareness."
At season's end, a panel will choose one of four quarterly finalists as the NASCAR USG Person of the Year. The award will be presented during the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York, along with a $100,000 prize to be divided evenly between the driver and the charity of his/her choice. Other Second Quarter nominees were Ricky Craven (No. 32 Tide Chevrolet), the 2003 NASCAR USG Person of the Year, McMurray and Jeff Gordon, the 2004 First Quarter USG Person of the Year.
Jarrett to host golf event ... A serious enthusiast -- he boasts a legitimate handicap -- Dale Jarrett is anticipating the Dale Jarrett Shootout, a five-hole competition for NASCAR peers and golf professionals at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 2 p.m. The event takes place during the PGA Tour's Champions Tour tournament at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover, N.C., and includes Bobby Labonte, son Jason Jarrett, who races in the ARCA series, father Ned Jarrett, a two-time NASCAR premier series champion, and Benny Parsons, another former premier series champion and current NASCAR on NBC analyst. Participating peers include Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford), Elliott Sadler, Michael Waltrip and Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford). Ed Fiori and Joe Inman are among the participating Champions Tour pros. Jarrett's brother Glenn will emcee the event, which is scheduled for Holes 1, 2, 16, 17 and 18 of Rock Barn's Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course. For more information call 1-866-762-5227) or visit www.greaterhickoryclassic.com.
Chevrolet-Ford-Dodge in Manufacturers standings ... Jimmie Johnson's win at Pocono fortified Chevrolet's lead in the Manufacturers Championship standings. Chevrolet's 146 points are followed by Ford's 124 and Dodge's 110. Chevrolet has a series-high 12 victories while Ford has six and Dodge has two.
Mark this milestone: A burgeoning legacy ... This week's Brickyard 400 marks only the 11th event in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series history at Indianapolis; yet fascinating facts are piling up. First, remember that Rick Mast won the first Bud Pole for the first race in 1994. Second, note Indiana-favorite Jeff Gordon won the inaugural event. Third, here's a true nugget: Geoffrey, Brett and Todd Bodine each led at least one lap in that first Brickyard 400 -- the first and only time in the modern era that three brothers have led a lap in the same event.
Contingency Corner ... This week at Indianapolis, Jimmie Johnson's pit crew will receive the Second Quarter Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award. Each quarter, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chiefs select a team that demonstrates sportsmanship, camaraderie with the garage, at-track presentation and overall team skills. At season's end, crew chiefs select the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew from four quarterly winners, and the winner receives $75,000 from Mechanix Wear. Two weeks ago, Johnson's crew was selected as the Second Quarter winner by their peers in New Hampshire -- the first time his crew has won a Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award. Matt Kenseth's pit crew, last season's Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew, won this year's First Quarter nomination. ... By winning his first career Bud Pole last week at Pocono, Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge) also qualified for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout. Other 2004 Bud Pole winners -- and automatic Budweiser Shootout qualifiers -- are Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Rudd, Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson, Jeremy Mayfield, and all past Budweiser Shootout Champions. The 2005 Budweiser Shootout will be held Feb. 12, 2005 at Daytona International Speedway.
Seven different drivers have won a Brickyard 400, but only Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett have won the event more than once. Gordon won the inaugural race in 1994, following with victories in 1998 and 2001. Jarrett won the Brickyard 400 in 1996 and 1999. ... More Gordon and Jarrett: Jeff has six top-five finishes at Indianapolis, more than any other driver. He's also led 309 of the 1,600 laps raced (19%) -- 123 more than Jarrett's next-highest total of 186 laps led. ... Rusty Wallace has nine top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, more than any other driver. ... And finally, some interesting manufacturer tidbits: Chevrolet and Ford each have won four Bud Poles at Indianapolis (Pontiac has two). But the only years the manufacturer won both the pole and the Brickyard 400 was 1995 (Chevrolet's Dale Earnhardt), 1997 (Ford's Ricky Rudd) and 2003 (Chevrolet's Kevin Harvick).
"We can win Indy because we weren't dominant by any means at Dover, but at the end of the race there wasn't anybody that could run with us. That's how I feel about Indy. We've got a good shot." -- Mark Martin.
"Somebody last year referred to us as 'Runner-up Rusty' and we're out to change all of that this weekend at Indy." -- Rusty Wallace.
"This race is a race you go to win - not to run second or third. We want to be kissing those bricks when the race is all said and done." -- Todd Parrott, Elliott Sadler's crew chief.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The first American magazine devoted to the sport of auto racing, Speed Age hit newsstands in 1946 and remained part of the racing scene through 1960. In the January 1948 issue, editor Don O'Reilly mentioned the idea of a 500-mile late model stock car race for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A month later, the February issue featured this letter to the editor:
"Please accept this as my entry for the suggested 500-mile stock car race at Indianapolis," wrote Chess Wilkins of Arlington, Va. "I wish to enter my 1947 Cadillac. I think you have really started something. You don't need the auto manufacturers to sponsor this kind of a race. I believe you can draw an entry list of at least 500 late model cars from race drivers, ex-race drivers, race car owners and the fans. Anyone who has ever driven in any kind of a race would never pass up a chance to drive on the 'Bricks". You see, that's every race driver's highest ambition. How about it, boys?"
The editor's response was: "We understand on good authority that the Indianapolis management would gladly make the track available for such a race, if the necessary financial backing could be obtained. Indianapolis - the greatest speedway in the world - and it is used only once a year."
O'Reilly's idea materialized 46 years later with the first Brickyard 400 on Aug. 6, 1994. But more amazing? That February 1948 issue of Speed Age also featured a story about Bill France forming a Florida-based sanctioning body called NASCAR.
What: Brickyard 400. (Race No. 21 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Ind.
When: Sunday, Aug. 8, 2:30 p.m. (ET).
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $8,865,458.
Race length: 400 miles/160 laps.
Track layout: 2.5-mile paved.
2003 winner: Kevin Harvick.
2003 polesitter: Kevin Harvick.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 3,040. 2. Jeff Gordon 2,808. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,773. 4. Matt Kenseth 2,623. 5. Tony Stewart 2,606. 6. Elliott Sadler 2,504. 7. Kurt Busch 2,481. 8. Ryan Newman 2,472. 9. Bobby Labonte 2,466. 10. Kevin Harvick 2,420.