Thursday New York Notes

NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet Notebook By Dave Rodman NEW YORK (Dec. 3, 1998) Notes and quotes following Thursday's NASCAR Winston Cup annual press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel: NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owner Robert Yates said...

NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet Notebook By Dave Rodman

NEW YORK (Dec. 3, 1998) Notes and quotes following Thursday's NASCAR Winston Cup annual press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel:

NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owner Robert Yates said Thursday morning he had secured a crew chief for his No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford and driver Kenny Irwin, but due to a variety of issues he said he was not able to reveal his identity. Later, however, in a NASCAR Online live chat, Irwin said former series championship-winning head wrench Doug Richert would call his shots from pit lane in 1999.

Richert, who worked wonders with the under-financed LJ Racing team in 1998, won his first championship with Dale Earnhardt in 1980 as a 20-year-old, then won a second championship in 1982 with Darrell Waltrip and Junior Johnson.

Cartoon Network Wacky Racing announced Thursday at the Waldorf-Astoria that it would return in 1999 as the sponsor of the No. 9 Melling Racing Fords driven by Jerry Nadeau. The network will partner with sister companies TBS Superstation and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) for sponsorship in selected races.

Continuing its tradition, each of the three divisions will have complete control of the car's design and associate sponsorships for its respective races. Cartoon Network will continue as Turner Broadcasting's dominant NASCAR sponsor beginning with the 1999 Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway.

The Superstation's car designs will feature the Major League Baseball National League East Division champion Atlanta Braves and the popular show A Dinner & A Movie, while WCW will use the car to promote its wrestlers and pay-per-view events.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Thursday announced the format for the fans' portion of RJR's Winston "No Bull 5" program for 1999. Beginning with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14, at each No Bull 5 event, five fans will be randomly selected through a sweepstakes and will be paired with the five drivers eligible to win the $1 million No Bull 5 bonus by winning the race. If "their" driver wins, the fan would receive a $1 million bonus in Victory Lane the same day as the winning driver.

The program will be in effect at each No Bull 5 race in 1999: The Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400, Coca-Cola 600, Pepsi Southern 500 and Winston 500. The pairings for the Daytona 500 are expected to be made on Jan. 16 at the T. Wayne Robertson NASCAR Winston Cup Preview in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In a multi-part announcement, the Budweiser brand of Anheuser-Busch announced Thursday that it had renewed its commitment as the "Official Beer of NASCAR" through 2002. As part of the agreement, the brand will continue to sponsor the NASCAR Bud Pole Award and its accompanying "Bud Shootout At Daytona," a race for pole winners only that will be held on Feb. 7 at Daytona.

In 1999, Budweiser will sponsor two drivers on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series: Wally Dallenbach in the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports-owned Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will run a selected five races in a Chevrolet from the Dale Earnhardt Inc. shop.

Bill Elliott received more than 49 percent of more than 40,000 votes and captured his 13th National Motorsports Press Association NASCAR Winston Cup Most Popular Driver Award.

"This has been an extremely tough year in a lot of ways, with what's happened to my family and with the race teams," Elliott said. "On the other side, the fans ... you just can't say enough for the fans. Whatever we have done has created a legacy of a group of fans that have supported us since we were just a family entity. All I can say is I'll keep working hard to fill these big shoes and make those fans proud."

Edsel B. Ford II and NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Dale Jarrett capped a year-long initiative by presenting a check for $175,000 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation on Thursday at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Jarrett's Robert Yates Racing sponsor Ford Credit donated money for breast cancer research for every top-three finish and every Bud Pole starting position that Jarrett earned during the 1998 season. On the strength of Jarrett's three victories, five second-place finishes, seven third-place finishes and two Bud Poles, Ford Credit's donation to the Komen Foundation totaled $112,500. Ford Credit contributed an additional $62,500 in recognition of both Dale and Kelley Jarrett's efforts away from the race track on behalf of the Komen Foundation.

"I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish for the Komen Foundation this year," said Jarrett of the support of the foundation that is the nation's largest private funding source for research dedicated exclusively to breast cancer. "As a team, we had a number of ups and downs this year, but this program with Ford Credit was always a kind of silver lining. It's important to me and my wife, Kelley, that we find ways to help others, and this program gave us another great opportunity."

NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division driver Jimmy Foster underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove a surgical screw from his broken left foot, but he is already making plans to return to a race car in 1999, grandfather Jim Foster, a retired NASCAR vice president, revealed on Thursday.

Foster and childhood friend Alan Gustafson have teamed to form a race team that is leasing space in former NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship-winning crew chief Gary DeHart's shop. Foster hopes to run up to five NASCAR Busch Series races this season in Chevrolet Monte Carlos. His other racing activity -- as well as sponsorship for his effort -- is being worked on, the elder Foster said.

Jimmy Foster's foot will be in a soft cast for about three weeks.

Two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Terry Labonte appeared in New York City sans mustache, which prompted at least one humorous exchange at the post-press conference interview session Thursday. A journalist asked championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham if he'd seen his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Evernham, half in jest, said 'no.' When he was informed that Labonte was on site and had shaved off his well-worn mustache, Evernham cracked, 'Well, in that case, maybe I did see him and didn't recognize him.'"

NASCAR Winston Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin continued on Thursday to be the subject of scrutiny from a film crew from the "Discovery Channel" that was working on a season-long special project. The crew was much in evidence following the press conference chronicling Irwin's journey through the season-ending banquet.

Jeff Gordon may be the hottest property in NASCAR racing right now, but he's not above getting excited about his own personal heroes and celebrities. Actor Sean Penn, who is at the Waldorf-Astoria while filming a movie in town, apparently is a big fan of NASCAR racing, and was angling to attend Friday night's soiree. When Gordon heard that, he became noticeably excited and said to a NASCAR official, "Wow ... he really is (a race fan)? Please make sure you invite him up to the head table at some point in the night to meet us ..." And the phenomenon continues ..

Haas-Carter Motorsports, a partnership between long-time motorsports entrepreneur Carl Haas and owner Travis Carter, was introduced on Thursday afternoon, along with a multi-hued No. 66 Ford Taurus in "Big Kmart" colors and driver Darrell Waltrip, who will pilot the car for two of the three years of the deal. Haas, who formerly owned the No. 12 car of Jeremy Mayfield with current owner Michael Kranefuss, also owns the Newman-Haas Racing CART Fed-Ex Championship team as well as being involved in other motorsports ventures.

Former Indianapolis Motor Speedway superintendent and long-time race track consultant and paving guru J. Clarence Cagle has been named the recipient of the 1998 Buddy Shuman Memorial Award. The award, presented annually since 1957 in honor of the late NASCAR driver and official, cites the person who "has gone above the call of duty during the year in service to NASCAR Winston Cup racing."

A panel of manufacturer's representatives selects the recipient and the award is sponsored by Champion Spark Plugs.

"I'll try to do my best to achieve what I have always felt Champion Spark Plugs have personified," said Cagle, who was visibly moved by the award, "and that's good racing."

A spokesperson for Bill Elliott said the Elliott-Marino Racing team was still waiting for a definite word on the status of FIRSTPLUS Financial's continued sponsorship of its No. 13 Ford Taurus. The team expects to know something, more than likely by Monday, the spokesperson said.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet might be in New York City, but three-time champion Darrell Waltrip said the event always brings on a different feeling.

"Man, I feel like I'm in Daytona," he said, shaking his head. "There are NASCAR people everywhere -- you can't turn a corner without bumping into someone."

And, as Waltrip found after posing for dozens and dozens of fan photographs with everyone from race-garbed fans to business-suited executives -- the pull of NASCAR has reached all corners of the country.

Terry Labonte said his teenage son Justin, was looking forward to making his NASCAR Busch Series debut in 1999, driving a Labonte Racing, Slim Jim-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a limited number of races.

"I think he's ready," the proud papa said. "I think he'll definitely do some short-track races, like Nashville, South Boston and Myrtle Beach; then maybe Nazareth, Milwaukee and Pikes Peak, because those would be hard for me to make -- and also Watkins Glen.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. is another second-generation racer who's looking to the NASCAR Busch Series in 1999 -- but for a full program, his father Bobby Hamilton said.

"He's got a full deal with Sadler Racing," Hamilton confirmed. "The Sadlers have got sponsorship from companies that they are in business with. As we have this year, I look after the motor program and they take care of the cars, It works good for both sides and we're pretty excited about it."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Wally Dallenbach , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Jerry Nadeau , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Ray Evernham , Carl Haas , Junior Johnson , Robert Yates , Doug Richert
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Yates Racing