Posted on: February 7, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 5:28 pm

Annett charged with DUI

By Pete Pistone

NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett was charged with a DUI early Sunday morning.

According to Mooresville, N.C. police Annett was charged with resisting arrest, failure to reduce speed and unlawful use of a mobile phone to text as well as the driving under the influence arrest.

Annett had a blood alcohol level of 0.32, well over the 0.08 North Carolina limit.

Annett, who joined Rusty Wallace Racing for the 2011 Nationwide Series season, was arrested at 1:23 a.m. Sunday morning.

Wallace released a team statement on the matter:

Rusty Wallace Racing is aware of a traffic incident over the weekend involving Michael Annett, driver of our team's No. 62 car.  We have been in contact with both the authorities and NASCAR and are finishing our internal investigation into the facts.

Rusty Wallace Racing does not condone, nor tolerate, substance abuse by any of its employees.  In line with this, RWR is currently working with Michael to develop a package of sanctions which will address this issue.  Among these will be successful completion of a comprehensive alcohol awareness program, a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol use, a year-long community service program and additional internal sanctions.

Stated Annett, "I am deeply remorseful for my actions and my extreme lack of judgment.  I let down my team, my sponsors, my fans and my family; I sincerely apologize to everyone that I hurt.  This was truly a life-changing moment for me.  Despite all of the negativity that will undoubtedly arise from it, I'm going to strive to use this incident as the impetus to make a lot of positive changes in my life.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:38 pm

Derrike Cope in Bud Shootout

Posted By Pete Pistone

The 1990 Daytona 500 winner will have a ride in this Saturday night's Bud Shootout.

Derrike Cope announced he'd take part in the all-star race that kicks off NASCAR's portion of "Speedweeks" driving a car prepared by Larry Gunselman.

Cope became eligible for the event when rules will changed to include former Daytona Sprint Cup winner in the field.

Cope won the 1990 even in dramatic fashion when he passed leader Dale Earnhardt on the final lap when Earnhardt cut a tire racing through turn three.

Plans for an entry in the 2011 Daytona 500 are still being formalized.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 8:14 pm

Cup qualifying schedules set

Posted By Pete Pistone

The official word on what tracks will host Sprint Cup qualifying on what days is now official with the release of the circuit's 2011 weekend timetable.

As we reported a few weeks ago, a large number of tracks are pushing Cup time trials to Saturday and eliminating the traditional Friday afternoon sessions that had become common place in recent years.

With dwindling attendance for Friday qualifying days, may tracks have opted to move the session to Saturday where it will join a busy day of practice and support series races in a number of cases.

Not all tracks are following suit but here's how the breakdown looks for 2011 as you plan your racing and travel calendars:

Saturday Qualifying
Phoenix (February and November)
Martinsville (April and October)
Talladega (April and October)
Dover (May and October)
Pocono (June and August)
Auto Club Speedway (March)
Kansas (June)
Michigan (June)
Indianapolis (July)
Watkins Glen (August)
Atlanta (September)
Chicagoland (September)
Homestead (November)

Friday Qualifying
Richmond (April and September)
Texas (April and November)
New Hampshire (July and September)
Bristol (March and August)
Las Vegas (March)
Darlington (May)
Infineon (June)
Daytona (July)
Kentucky (July)
Michigan (August)
Kansas (September)

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:06 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 3:07 pm

Gale lands truck deal with KHI

Posted By Pete Pistone
From Team Release

Rheem Manufacturing Company has announced that it will continue its long-time support of driver Cale Gale through a primary sponsorship of Gale in six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Gale will drive the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in the races.

Rheem entered NASCAR as an associate sponsor in 2007 and stepped up as a primary NASCAR Nationwide Series sponsor of KHI’s No. 33 in 2008 with Gale driving the company’s first Nationwide race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Rheem Racing program now includes sponsorship of NASCAR’s Canadian Tire Series, Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series.

The 25-year-old Gale, named after legendary NASCAR driver Cale Yarborough, racked up an average starting position of 6.8 in six ARCA Series starts, an even more impressive finishing position average of 3.5 and scored his first win in 2006. He made a combined 27 NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series starts from 2006 to 2008 for KHI. Gale’s 11th Nationwide Series start was in the now-familiar black and red Rheem Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway in 2008. That same year, Gale won the pole in the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway finishing fourth.

One of the many driver casualties of the recession, Gale went on to drive for Rheem in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2009 along with competing in super late models throughout the southeastern United States. In 2010, the former Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway super-stock and late-model champion, made his debut as a crew chief in the ARCA Racing Series for Richard Childress Racing as well as working as a shock specialist and race-day engineer for Turner Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“There are many, many things Rheem likes about Cale Gale, including his driving ability and rich driving heritage. But, what Rheem most appreciates about Cale is his tenacity, dedication and sincere commitment to achieving excellence at the highest levels of professional stock car racing,” said JR Jones, Rheem CEO and President.

In addition to putting Gale in the seat of six Camping World Truck Series races this season, Rheem is also the primary sponsor of Gale’s No. 83 Rheem Chevrolet Super Late Model car. Recently, Gale put the Rheem No. 83 on the pole at Pensacola’s famed Snowball Derby while setting a new track qualifying record of 16:33.

The lack of sponsors at every level of racing due to the economy has threatened to discourage talented young drivers to pursue their dreams as well as to reduce the ability of NASCAR’s leading racing teams to invest in driver development. Ed Raniszeski, Rheem Corporate Director of Marketing who is responsible for the Rheem Racing program said, “Racing is an important part of our marketing program. The Rheem Way is to focus on excellence at every level of the process; it is difficult to achieve or sustain quality without investing at each step of product development and customer satisfaction. That belief is at the core of the Rheem culture, so it is natural for Rheem to be involved from the highest to the most fundamental levels of racing. It is good for our company and our brands to help support the future quality of racing.”

In 2011, Gale takes another step on the journey he began with his father and racing coach, Bubba Gale, at age four. Before the racing season closes at Pensacola’s Snowball Derby, Gale will have racked up more high quality seat time than at any time in his career. “I am so thankful to Rheem for stepping up to support and believe in me. It is an opportunity of a lifetime; I am looking forward to being back  at the NASCAR level representing my great sponsor Rheem as well as being back with KHI,” said Gale.

Gale will drive the No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas (Nev.) Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.


Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Cale Gale, NASCAR
Posted on: February 7, 2011 2:53 pm

TV conflicts causing shifts

Posted By Pete Pistone

The Sprint Cup Series won't be the only NASCAR division impacted by a shifting television landscape this season. The Nationwide Series will also experience several moves of start times as well as the shift of one race from ESPN.

Because of ESPN's commitment to the NFL draft, the April 29th Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway will be moved to SPEED. Despite ESPN/ESPN2 having the rights to all Nationwide Series events as part of NASCAR's last network television deal, the outlet is having a hard time fitting the circuit into its broadcast schedule at certain points of the season. The spring Richmond race however is the first time an event not delayed or postponed because of weather has been moved to another network.

There will be more conflicts in the fall when ESPN/ESPN2 goes into heavy college football game coverage. Several Nationwide Series races will slide back to a late afternoon slot come September and October as the network does its best to sandwich races into its CFB slate.

The Nationwide news comes in the wake of a decision to start several Sprint Cup races during the Chase later than in years past. With the exception of the Charlotte October race, which will be held on a Saturday night and carried by ABC, the remainder of the Chase schedule will see green flags an hour and sometimes two later than in previous seasons.

The network's philosophy seems to be to move Cup races from head-to-head competition with NFL games this fall, a point that could be moot should a labor lockout shut down professional football as many fear.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 6, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 1:57 pm

NASCAR and NFL connection

Posted By Pete Pistone

It's fitting that the Super Bowl falls a week before the NASCAR season starts. Big time stock car racing and professional football have a deep connection.

But specifically one person comes to mind for me this Super Bowl XLV Sunday - Les Richter.

Fittingly Richter - affectionately known as "Coach" during his days on the NASCAR scene - was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend and he will get his well-deserved place in Canton this summer. 

Richter earned a spot in eight Pro Bowls as a member of the Los Angeles Rams and was an imposing linebacker during his NFL career that lasted from 1954 through 1962.

But he also had a love of auto racing and when his football career ended he became involved in the sport first as co-owner of famed southern California road course Riverside International Raceway.

Richter went on to run the now-defunct International Race of Champions (IROC) Series, which pitted drivers from all forms of racing in identically-prepared cars in an effort to crown the world's best behind the wheel. He moved into a management role with NASCAR as a vice president and was instrumental in the development and creation of California Speedway, now known as Auto Club Speedway.

During his time with NASCAR, Richter was a valued confidant of president Bill France Jr. and a mentor to Mike Helton, who went on to become president of the sanctioning body.

Until he passed away last June at the age of 79, Richter was a frequent presence in the garage area whenever possible even during his retirement as an active figure in the sport. "Coach" was a menacing figure and a guy whose handshake would reach up to most people's elbow. But he was as charming as he was large and the epitomized the term "gentle giant." 

His induction into football's Hall of Fame is well-deserved to say the least.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 5, 2011 11:36 am

Points shuffle impacts TRG and RCR

By Pete Pistone

No sooner did TRG Motorsports head Kevin Buckler name Andy Lally to drive his No. 71 entry in the Daytona 500 did news break on more owner points shuffling.

NASCAR.com is reporting that TRG's 2010 owner points have indeed been purchased through an "equity partnership" with Richard Childress Racing. That gives RCR's fourth entry driven by Paul Menard a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500 and the first five races of the season. The new No. 27 Chevrolet joins RCR's existing stable of Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer in 2011.

TRG will now reportedly have a relationship with the former Richard Petty Motorsports organization's No. 98 owner points from 2010, which Menard - when he was a member of the team - kept in the Top 35 last season.

If that holds true then Lally will maintain a starting spot in the 500 as well as the next four races of the season if the team decides to field an entry beyond the season-opening race.

Confused? You should be. It's a practice that NASCAR has let run rampant and one of the more ridiculous policies in the sanctioning body's history.

Stay tunes - more to come on this story and rule.

Posted on: February 5, 2011 10:10 am

TRG tabs Lally for Daytona 500

Posted By Pete Pistone

Fresh off winning the GT division title at last week's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Andy Lally will get another shot to race at "The World Center of Racing" for TRG Motorsports.

Team president Kevin Buckler has tabbed Lally to pilot TRG's No. 71 entry in the 53rd running of the Daytona 500. TRG has a guaranteed spot in the race based on finishing inside the Top 35 in last season's owner points.

The decision tables talk of Buckler selling the point spot to another team ala the move earlier this week which saw Richard Petty Motorsports peddle the No. 19 entry's Top 35 points from 2010 to the Wood Brothers.

Buckler is still hoping to find enough sponsorship to compete for the entire 2011 Sprint Cup Series season.

Lally has been part of TRG's wide range of racing initiatives over the last several years including driving Buckler-prepared machines in the Grand Am sports car series, Camping World Truck Series and now the Sprint Cup Series.

A Daytona sponsor for the No. 71 Toyota is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Category: Auto Racing
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