Thursday news #1 97-08-14

NASCARFans E-Mail List Thanks to all of you for the feedback on receiving the posts. I'm still not sure what's going on with those. I got three yesterday, one of which I had mailed out to you folks on Monday. Also I apologize for the web...

NASCARFans E-Mail List

Thanks to all of you for the feedback on receiving the posts. I'm still not sure what's going on with those. I got three yesterday, one of which I had mailed out to you folks on Monday.

Also I apologize for the web site not being updated lately. There's been some behind-the-scenes things preventing that from taking place. Just as soon as everything gets straightened out, it'll be updated again.

Kenny Irwin, Jr was testing the Texaco Havoline #28 Thunderbird Tuesday (8/12) and Wednesday (8-13) at RIR (Richmond). No idea of speeds (Jayski)

Jayski says the next color you will see on Brett Bodine's #11 will be purple. Andy Evans owns the Royal Purple Engine Additive and they will replace Close Call. Look for it in Michigan, or Bristol at the latest.

Let's figure this out: Ernie has now been rumored to: #3, #4(& a second team car), #6, #14, #15, #23, #28(stay in or part of a three car team), #29(and a second team car), #36, #37(second team), #40, #41(second team car), #43, plus the new DrJ team so far in 1997 for 1998, YIKES, that's a lot of rumors for one driver, ya know what, I don't have a clue where he might go (speculation/calculations by Jayski).

Memorial services were held Wednesday for Robert Joe ``Bob'' Welborn, a NASCAR pioneer who won the pole for the inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway in 1959. Welborn, who died Sunday at age 69, won the National Convertible Driving Championship in 1956, 1957 and 1958. He competed in NASCAR's Grand National division during the 1950s and early 1960s. Welborn captured seven victories before retiring in 1964. In 1982, Welborn was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Survivors include his wife, Novella, four daughters, his stepmother, ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. (WRAL)

Some Owner-Drivers May Wish They'd Remained Just Drivers.

Dale Jarrett admits to having two big goals in racing. One is to win a Winston Cup championship, the other to own a racing team. The second one, at least, apparently will have to wait a while.

In 1995, in his first season driving for Robert Yates Racing, Jarrett became disenchanted with his situation at about the halfway mark and tried to put together his own team for the next year.

``We had everything lined up except sponsorship - a race shop, some people who said they'd work with us. But you can't do anything in this sport without sponsorship,'' said Jarrett, who put that part of his dream aside as he became comfortable, and a winner, with Yates, and is third in this season's point race.

Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion, is building his own team, although he doesn't plan to drive his own car. He'll stay in the No. 3 Richard Childress Chevrolet, maybe until his driving career is over, and bring along newcomer Steve Park as his driver.

``I'll have to have other people run that deal,'' Earnhardt said. ``I can do a lot of the planning and stuff like that, but at the race track, I'm going to be taking care of business in Richard's car. You can't be thinking about anything else when you're in the car.''

The two Dales provide the answer to what it takes to be an owner-driver in NASCAR's top stock car division - lots of sponsorship money and the competitive fire to still drive a race car.

Ask Ricky Rudd, Geoff Bodine, Brett Bodine, Bill Elliott and Darrell Waltrip about being a driver-owner, and you'll find out it's not easy.

Of that group, only Rudd has won this season - taking races at Dover and Indianapolis. The rest have struggled just to be competitive.

Waltrip has lost his primary sponsor for next season, while the two Bodine brothers have had to seek out partners to bail them out financially.

``This sport is expensive with a capital E,'' said Geoff Bodine, who bought Alan Kulwicki's team after the 1992 series champion died in a plane crash in April 1993.

``I got to the point late last year that I could see trouble coming, but I didn't know how to avoid it,'' Bodine said. ``Money was the problem. The sponsors just weren't providing enough of it, and I don't have enough.

``It wasn't a matter of just trying to be competitive. It was trying to pay the bills so we could just get to the race tracks.''

This weekend, Bodine is expected to announce the names of his new partners, two well-heeled restaurateurs who will allow Bodine to focus more on his driving and less on the business of racing.

When brother Brett, who bought Junior Johnson's team in late 1995, told him there was a good possibility that entrepreneur Andy Evans would buy 50 percent of his team, Geoff told him, ``You'd be a fool to pass it up. It's too hard to go it alone.''

Brett took his advice and the deal was announced last week.

``I've got to tell you, it's a weight off of my shoulders,'' Brett said. ``Sometimes, I'd just lay in bed at night and wonder how to get everything done and everything paid for.''

Elliott, a former series champion, was part of a family team for years, then had partners until he became his own boss in 1995.

``We're just getting our feet on the ground now,'' Elliott said. ``Doing this, putting a team together and running it, is one of the hardest things you can do in racing. It takes years just to get the right people in the right places, and to figure out just how to put the best car you can out on the track.''

Rudd, who started his own team in 1994, said trying to drive a race car and run the business leaves him very little time for anything else.

``There is no part of the day that is really ours anymore,'' he said. ``I practically have to make an appointment to see my wife and son during the season because there's so much to do.''

Waltrip, a three-time Winston Cup champion who hasn't won a race since September 1992, a year after he bought his own team, agrees with Rudd.

``You have to know a lot more than I thought, and a lot more than I did, when I bought this team,'' Waltrip said. ``You have to know about warehousing parts, schedules, dynamometers, hiring and firing, dealing with people's personal problems and a whole bunch more.

``There have been times when I didn't handle it too well. There have been times when getting in the car was the only relief I got, and that doesn't help you get mentally prepared for racing.''

Still, none of the current owner-drivers want to go back to the simpler life of just driving.

``You kind of get used to deciding your own fate, making your own decisions and being your own boss,'' Rudd said. (Mike Harris, for WRAL)

Fueled by a record quarter on the New York Stock Exchange, Speedway Motorsports Inc. said yesterday that it would put up a $5 million purse for a second Winston Cup Series date at the Texas Motor Speedway. Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith confirmed the company's planned purse. The race would be the highest-paying event in NASCAR history, surpassing the $4.9 million paid at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weeks ago. ''That's something that gets everybody's attention,'' said Terry Labonte, the 1996 Winston Cup champion from Corpus Christi, Texas. ''I hope Texas does get a second date, as nice as that facility is. They deserve a couple of dates.'' The 1998 Winston Cup schedule is expected to be released on Labor Day weekend at Darlington, S.C. TMS and the new California Speedway are both pushing to receive a second race date. (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow)

Penske Motorsports said yesterday it has agreed to pay an undisclosed price for an option to buy about 640 acres of property in the Denver area, near the new airport, as the future site of a motor speedway. The identity of the seller was not disclosed. The land, in Adams County, is about 15 miles from downtown Denver. (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow)

Robby Gordon is one of the country's most talented young racers, and has the potential to become one of stock-car racing's biggest stars over the next decade. But he says he will probably give up his NASCAR venture at the end of this season and returnto CART's Indy-car series unless he gets a solid offer from a top Winston Cup car owner within the next week or so. Gordon, a rookie who finished fourth at Watkins Glen on Sunday in his career-best finish on the stock-car tour, said he would prefer to stay in NASCAR. And he said he has even tried to put together his own Winston Cup operation. ''But I think my reputation has taken a pretty big hit this year, with what's been said. And I think the most important thing for me is to position myself to where I can win races on a consistent basis, so I can build my reputation back up. That's what I'm really looking at when I look at 1998,'' Gordon said. ''I've got an Indy-car (CART) offer, a couple, actually. And I've got some offers on the Cup side. But if I stay in Winston Cup, I've got to feel I have the people and equipment to be competitive every weekend. I know one of the Indy-car teams that I can win with. And I need to get back to that performance level again. I want to be able to win in Winston Cup on a consistent basis, like Jeff Gordon is doing. That's the direction I want to take. ''There are still plenty of good teams out there that wouldn't mind having Robby Gordon drive for them. I'm not worried about getting a job. In fact, I'm pretty close, real close, to deciding what I'm going to do, probably next week.'' (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow)

Mike Irwin ( NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Steve Park , Robby Gordon , Junior Johnson , Robert Yates , Andy Evans , Alan Kulwicki
Teams Yates Racing