Thursday news 97-08-28

NASCARFans E-Mail List For all you Lake Speed fans, Chaz and Charlotte.com report that Lake Speed has landed Cartoon Network sponsorship for '98. ``Our prayers have been answered,'' Speed said. ``Now we will be able to really go racing for the...

NASCARFans E-Mail List

For all you Lake Speed fans, Chaz and Charlotte.com report that Lake Speed has landed Cartoon Network sponsorship for '98. ``Our prayers have been answered,'' Speed said. ``Now we will be able to really go racing for the first time since I came to Melling Racing.'' Speed is 35th in the Winston Cup standings, but has averaged a 22nd-place finish. He was 11th in the standings in 1994 for car owner Bud Moore, the last time he raced a season with full sponsorship. ``We are very excited to be associated with Lake Speed and Melling Racing, two of the most respected names in NASCAR,'' said Kim McQuilken, vice president of the network that is part of Ted Turner's cable television empire. It announced earlier this year that it would end its sponsorship of the No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports Chevrolets after this season. Car owner Harry Melling, who owns a Michigan-based tool company, has been in racing since 1979. Bill Elliott won the the Winston Million in 1985 and the 1988 Winston Cup title in Melling's cars. Melling is still looking for 1997 sponsorship. If none is found, Speed will race only at Darlington, New Hampshire, Charlotte, Phoenix and Atlanta.

Chaz also reports to me that NOBODY, including Jack Roush, knows whether Chad Little will be driving a Ford or Pontiac next year. His source told him the politics of that decision are MONUMENTAL, and that either way they go, people are gonna get ticked off. iRace reports that Roush wanted too much money from GM, and that Chad Little will be driving a Ford. We'll see how this one plays out.

Joey Knuckles, veteran tire changer and former crew chief for Davey Allison, was released on Tuesday from Robert Yates Racing. No reasons reported yet (Jayski)

I've had several inquiries about the Buckshot Jones incident at Bristol. I didn't see the race, so all I know is from news reports. Here's a Buckshot quote from a recent chat session on NASCAR Online:

"The one thing I'm sorry for is that I accidently got in the back of Mike McLaughlin. That ruined Mike's chances for winning the race. I talked with Mike and apologized, I'm sure he's still upset. As for the other incident, it's Bristol and there will be some banging. I reacted instead of thinking, and my reaction was the same as most racers. I went after him, and after that I got to thinking and realized that I shouldn't have done that. There doesn't need to be anything like that in NASCAR. The rules are clear."

The Ford Taurus Winston Cup car is expected to go through some unofficial shakedowns before a NASCAR test on October. 13 at Talladega, the day after the DieHard 500. The car will also be tested at Las Vegas after the Dura-Lube 500, and Nov. 2 at Phoenix. (Jayski)

A reader told me that he had a chance to ask Jeremy Mayfield about K-Mart's increased presense on the #37, and Jeremy told him K-Mart wanted a bigger piece of the action, and that the car would remain as it is now (with K-Mart only on the hood). (thanks, Jeff)

What was Turn 1 is now Turn 3. Turn 2 used to be Turn 4. The pit road that used to be preferred is now the pits. Welcome to the new Darlington Raceway. Get your road maps at the door. History switches sides for Sunday's Southern 500, the first race to be held on the 1.366-mile track's new configuration. The start-finish line has been moved from one side of the track to the other, meaning the turn that used to be Turn 3 is now Turn 1. Confusing? You bet. ``I was confused the whole time I was there,'' said Jeff Gordon, who tested at Darlington last week in preparation for his bid to win a $1 million bonus in Sunday's race. ``Every time (crew chief) Ray (Evernham) and I talked about what to do in this turn, we had to point,'' Gordon said. ``It's loose over there and tight over there. We finally stopped having to say one and two because we kept having to correct ourselves. It was crazy.'' How crazy? In an effort to help everybody keep it all straight, Darlington officials have painted ``TURN 1'' on the new first turn, with similar identifying marks in all four turns. Bill Elliott also tested at Darlington, working with Grand National series driver Ron Barfield. ``When Ron and I would talk on the radio to each other, we kept getting mixed up,'' Elliott said. ``We're just calling Turns 1 and 2 the east end and Turns 3 and 4 the west end. From the point we started that, we didn't have a problem.'' Spotters, the drivers' eyes in the sky who scan the track for trouble so they can send radio warnings, will have to adjust quickly. Adding to the challenge is the fact that their perch for the race has been moved from a tower located in what is now Turn 3 to a new control tower at the start-finish line. The track was swapped around to give Darlington room to grow. The old frontstretch sits within a few yards of a highway, blocking any major expansion on that side. The track has built a new grandstand, named for driving legend David Pearson, in the new Turn 4 and has plans to keep adding on what is now the frontstretch. (charlotte.com)

When drivers "face off" with the "new" Darlington Raceway for the first time on Friday, during Busch Pole Qualifying for the Dura-Lube 200 Presented By Trak Auto NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and Mountain Dew Southern 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races, there will be the greatest of historical implications. Not only will it be the initial time that NASCAR's best challenge the track with the start/finish line in its new position, but also Dale Jarrett will be trying to place his name in the record book along with three Hall of Fame legends. The pressure will be greater than ever. "We'll be going into unknown territory," says Jarrett, who will vie for his third consecutive Busch Pole at Darlington in Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500. "Even though the track's layout isn't different, it's going to be a whole new ball game for us. It's going to seem strange going into the old Turn 3, knowing it's the new Turn 1. "Every driver in that garage wants to win a pole at Darlington. It's the toughest one-on-one battle there is in NASCAR. It's you against the toughest track in motorsports. Whoever wins this particular pole will go down in history as the driver who started first in the first race at the new Darlington." The race for the pole position at NASCAR's original superspeedway has always been a race within a race because of the tough, slap-your-face personality of the track "Too Tough To Tame." Only three drivers: Fireball Roberts (1959-60), Fred Lorenzen (1963-64) and Darlington's all-time pole winner David Pearson (1975-77) have ever captured three straight pole positions at the 1.366-mile oval. In fact, Pearson reeled-off five straight. "That's some pretty good company," says Jarrett. "When I retire, I hope I can say I was half as successful as they were. It would be a great honor to be in that category and I think my team can do it. We've hit on the right setup the last two times we've been to Darlington. There's no reason we can't do it again." (NASCAR Online)

Quantum3D, Inc. announced on the 26th that its Obsidian family of realtime 3D graphics accelerators have been selected by LBE Technologies, Inc. for both development and deployment platforms for its NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway auto racing simulator. The simulator will be deployed in a series of themed auto racing entertainment centers across the U.S. "LBE Technologies has assembled one of the best realtime 3D game teams in the world," said Ross Smith, vice president of sales and marketing at Quantum3D. "The net result of their expertise is reflected in their games, which is one of the few places we've seen Obsidian boards used to their fullest capabilities." NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway puts gamers in the driver's seat by simulating the exciting, fast-moving world of competitive professional motor sports, complete with merchandise, queuing for races and award ceremonies for winners. (Chaz)

Mike Irwin (mike@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Buckshot Jones , Mike McLaughlin , Chad Little , Ron Barfield , Jack Roush , Robert Yates , Ross Smith , David Pearson , Fred Lorenzen
Teams Yates Racing