Saturday, December 26, 2009

NASCAR News Update

Even though it's the off-season, there's still plenty going on in the world of NASCAR...

The latest news comes just this morning of the Christmas evening death of Donald "D. J." Richardson from complications of the H1N1 virus.  Richardson was the rear-tire changer for Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet.  Richardson's flu turned to pnemonia and he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster, Massachusetts, in early December in acute respiratory distress.  He was 37.  Here's the announcement/statement from RCR.

NASCAR has changed the eligibility requirements for the 2010 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.  The old rules, which were just put in place in 2009,  called for the top six drivers in owner's points for each manufacturer to be included in the race.  That was a problem since Dodge is now down to just three Cup drivers, those at Penske Racing.  The new rules allow past Bud Shootout and Daytona Cup race winners (Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 winners) to make the entry list.  Former Cup champions and the current Raybestos Rookie of the Year (Joey Lagano) are also eligible.

The Bud Shootout is a non-points exhibition race that opens the NASCAR season the week before the Daytona 500.  Previously, when Budweiser was the sponsor of the Pole Award, the entry list for the Shootout focused on pole winners from the previous season.  That changed for the 2009 race when the Pole Award sponsorship went to rival brewery Coors.  (Updated Meanwhile... Bud Shootout post)

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Bill Elliott, and Bobby and Terry Labonte are among those who now make the 2010 race under the new rules.  David Reutimann, A. J. Allmendinger, Elliott Sadler, Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski are among those who would have qualified under the old rules, but are now out of the 2010 race.

On December 18, the operators of the Milwaukee Mile suddenly announced that they would not be holding their scheduled 2010 NASCAR races -- Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races on the weekend of June 18-19.  The operators of the track, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board, was unable to find a promoter for the 2010 season.  At the time, NASCAR issued a statement saying that they "were aware of this possibility" and that they were working on "alternative opportunities."  The Nationwide alternative opportunity was up the road at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, at Road America.  The 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course will take the Milwaukee Mile's slot on the 2010 Nationwide schedule.  Truck Series alternative opportunities haven't been announced yet.

(Danica's debut, a major award for Jimmie Johnson, and more after the jump)

Danica Patrick got plenty of on-the-job training last weekend at the Daytona ARCA test.  Rain hampered the first day's testing session, but Patrick got plenty of drafting experience on Day Two, and seemed to have the hang of it by Day Three.  Patrick will make her stock car debut in the February 6 ARCA opener at Daytona, but will skip the Daytona Nationwide Series opener and make her debut in that series at California on Feb. 20.
"The race (the Daytona Nationwide race) is basically a Cup race, some 30 odd drivers in Cup run in it," she said. "So, is that the right time for me to start or not? You only get one grand opening, so I've heard. We want it to be the right opportunity."

In other news, Jimmie Johnson claimed a major year-end award. He was named the Associated Press 2010 Male Athlete of the Year.  The overall sports award came after Johnson became only the fourth three-time winner of the Driver of the Year award.  Tiger Woods was named the Male Athlete of the Decade. 

The founders of Kentucky Speedway are through with their lawsuit against NASCAR.  After the judgment against them in the U.S. Court of Appeals, they've decided not to pursuit their remaining legal options. 

Marty Reid was named the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN races, replacing Dr. Jerry Punch who will return to his previous role as a pit road reporter. 

A. J. Allmendinger pleaded no contest to a DWI charge and received a 60-day suspended sentence, 18 months unsupervised probation, 24 hours of community service and $100 fine plus court costs. 

CJM Racing, which had 12 Top 10 Nationwide finishes in 2009, is ceasing operations

And the owners of Motorsports Authentics, the NASCAR memorabilia company, are attempting to reorganize the company to avoid bankruptcy

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