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PITTSBURGH, (May 31, 2007) – The 12th stop of the 2007 season at Lowe’s Motor Speedway once again had the stars of the Nextel Cup Series experiencing several indigestion-causing incidents, from wrecks during qualifying to early victory celebrations. Each weekend, PRN lead anchor Doug Rice picks the Top 10 TUMS Moments from that week’s racing activities.  For the 12th week of the NEXTEL Cup season, top TUMS honors go to:

 

10. I don’t know if a truckload of TUMS would help Michael Waltrip feel better; not only does he fail to make the  

      race but he also crashes hard in qualifying. He has now missed 11 straight races.

9. Waltrip’s teammate and promising rookie driver David Reutimann also fails to make the race and also  

    crashes on his qualifying attempt.

8. Greg Biffle in desperate need of a quality finish crashes early in the Coca-Cola 600 and finishes 43rd, not
all is well at Roush Fenway Racing.   

 

7. Roush Fenway stable mates Carl Edwards and David Ragan are involved in a crash that ruins both cars and
then somehow the returning legend Bill Elliott is swept into the fray. Elliott was actually running well at the
time for the Wood Brothers.

 

6. Kurt Busch was strong early on in the 600 leading 107 laps but after the sun went down in Charlotte his day
went dark, he crashed twice the second one totally destroying the Miller Lite Dodge.

 

5. A 13 car wreck on lap 54 effectively takes out a half dozen cars from competition including Elliott Sadler,
Jamie McMurray, Juan Montoya and Kevin Harvick.

 

4. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and  Dale Earnhardt Jr. all see a chance at victory slip away
as late race fuel stops rob them all of a chance at winning. 

 

3. Roger Penske; after his cars started on the front row he watched as Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finish
32nd and 39th respectively. 

 

2. Crew members of Casey Mears teams and some media members who had their NASCAR credentials
confiscated after running onto pit road and the infield grass before the race was over.

 

1. Jeff Gordon crashes hard on lap 60 after starting the race in 32nd and fighting his way to fifth, the crash is
celebrated by thousands as they cheer wildly, not sure what Jeff’s ever done to deserve that treatment.

 

Stayed tuned each week for the Top 10 TUMS Moments to see what drivers and teams are most in need of TUMS fast relief.  For more information on TUMS Racing, visit www.TUMSracing.com.

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Winner of the Coca-Cola 600 Casey Mears in the #25 National Guard Car

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DEI/Dale Jr. Colors of #8 Salute to the Troops

Concord, NC May 26,2007

Story and Images by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times

Well once again its the weekend of the Coca-Cola 600 and Memorial Day. As American as NASCAR is it is only appropriate that certain of the teams salute the troops and the various branches of the Armed Services. Here is a brief photo recap of the teams and cars that are wearing their Armed Forces colors this weekend.

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Jeff Gordon’s #24 Tribute to the Department of Defense

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#11 Deny Hamlin’s salutes the Marine

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Mark Martin’s Army Car

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Bill Eliott’s New Ride #21 Air Force

 

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JR Motosport’s Shane Huffman #88 Navy Car

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#28 Busch Car of Johnny Sauter sporting new sponsor U. S. Border Patrol

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Casey Mears #25 National Guard Car

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Casey Mears Trackside at Lowe’s

Concord, NC 05/27/2007

Intro by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times

Photos by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times

Well it appears that congratulations are in order for Casey Mears first win in NASCAR Nextel Cup, and the Hendrick cars just keep winning.  It was an exciting evening of racing and most of the front runners either got knocked out of the race or came up short on fuel.  It seems as though fuel strategy plays a major role in at least one race per Season, and this was definitely one of those races.

Comments on the Race from the Dodge Boys

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Coke Zero Dodge Charger) – 3rd

NOTE: Petty turns 47 on June 2. He made his 797th career start Saturday night and his 51st start at LMS. Petty finished third Saturday night and move up spots in the series standings to 26th. Petty has one victory, six top fives and 12 top 10s at LMS.

“Our car was good when the sun was out. We started so far back because of my stellar qualifying performance. We were 36th and then dropped back to last and then worked our way up to 27th when the sun was out under green just passing people, so the car was really, really good when it was slick. One of those corners got the shade first and when that happened we got out of balance. We were good in one corner and bad in the other corner and as the track cooled off we got really unbalanced. Billy (crew chief Wilburn) and I kept working with it and Billy made a couple of shock adjustments during the race and a couple of wedge adjustments and we probably didn’t get it right until I got the Lucky Dog. When I got up front that set of tires and the way the adjustments came, we were probably 160-170 laps to go. Through the middle 120-130 laps of the race we were out to lunch. We just kind of hung in there all day. We had some really good pit stops. The pit crew has been down the past five or six weeks. We’ve really struggled with our pit crew and they stepped up huge today. They’re the ones that put us in position to have the Lucky Dog. They’re the ones that put us in position to have a good run there at the end. I can’t say enough about that. The fuel mileage was good.”

COMMENT ON CASEY MEARS “I couldn’t be more excited for Casey Mears if his name was Adam Petty. I can tell you that. I’m tickled to death for Casey Mears. That kid is a great racecar driver. He’s very underrated. People don’t pay a lot of attention to him. He’s jumped in a Hendrick car and he’s struggled some this year. There’s going to be a lot of good things from him. He’s going to be somebody to reckon with.”

WHAT DOES A THIRD-PLACE FINISH MEAN TO YOU AND THE SPORT? “I think when you look at the top three or four tonight, I would say they’re all team efforts – engine tuning to car handling to drivers to kind of saving fuel. We had nothing to lose. We had top 10 cars – me, J.J., Reed Sorenson, we had top 10 cars all night long. We could race with those guys and be in the top 10. I couldn’t run with Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart. There was no way. It took a team to beat those guys and our team beat ‘em. I think when you look at it a 600-mile race is a long race. Nobody does it by themselves. I think this is a great example of why this is a team sport and how important the teams are.”

We knew we could run ninth or 10th. We had got away from the 1 car and 88 and those guys and had about a straightaway on those guys. I could still see Tony and those guys but really I was focused on that Interstate Batteries car because that was my gauge. Billy started telling me the lap times I needed to run. He said you need to run 31.80s and then in the last 15 laps he said you need to run 32 flats. I thought we’d finish fifth or sixth. The last time I looked at the board we were fifth or sixth.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE TEAM? “I know for myself and Casey this is huge. I was 31st in points and Casey was 35th in points. We gave ourselves a little bit of a cushion. We’ve had good runs only to have them fall flat in the last third of the race whether it be a cut tire or stuff breaking. For us that was big. I think when you look at it, especially for Casey and myself, that part was huge. If you look at these cars, the 25 and 18 and 45, we were good top 10 cars all day long and it took a good team effort to do it.”

IS THIS AS STRONG AS PETTY ENTERPRISES HAS BEEN IN AWHILE? “I would like to think we’re as strong as we have been. When you look at what Bobby has done and the amount of laps he’s led and the finishes and the amount of times he’s got a lap down and made it back up on the racetrack, that’s big. I’d like to think we’re getting stronger. I’d like to think six months ago we were stronger than we were six months before that, so yeah, there’s not a good time to step out (of the car). I’m 46 years old and I’ll be 47 on June 2. I’m just at that stage of my life where I want to do what I want to do and right now I want to do TV for a few races, so I’m going to step out. If we were winning races, I’d still step out. That’s just where I’m at in my career. I think it gives John (Andretti) a chance to step into a car that’s competitive. It gives Chad McCumbee a chance to step into a car that’s competitive, and I know it’s a big boost for the guys at the shop.”

“We knew we could run ninth or 10th. We had got away from the 1 car and 88 and those guys and had about a straightaway on those guys. I could still see Tony and those guys but really I was focused on that Interstate Batteries car because that was my gauge. Billy started telling me the lap times I needed to run. He said you need to run 31.80s and then in the last 15 laps he said you need to run 32 flats. I thought we’d finish fifth or sixth. The last time I looked at the board we were fifth or sixth.”

“Our pit crew has struggled and they stepped it up tonight. We beat people out of the pits every time. The guys with the Evernham engines and everybody has worked on fuel mileage, and it really paid off tonight. This is big for us. I don’t know how much gas is let in the car. I drove it in, so I figure I’ve got plenty left. If I get it from here to the truck that’s all that matters. All I was praying for was no green-white-checkered at the end. That would have killed us. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain and that put the Coke Zero car in the top three. Bobby has been able to do it and we haven’t been able to capitalize on it. Casey Mears had a great race tonight. I congratulate those guys. He’s a great racecar driver and he’s going to be a great racecar driver. For us this is like I’m 21 again and I’m driving for Felix Sabates in the Mello Yello car. I like the long races. I’m not much of a sprint racer. Bobby has been able to do it on some of the big tracks, but we just haven’t been able to do it. It just comes. In all honesty it’s just a race. We didn’t change the world tonight. It feels good to come back and race with these gjuys. I would have took that and gone to the house tonight. I guess third place was just the cherry on the sundae.”

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#43 Bobby Labonte at Lowe’s

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BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Betty Crocker/Chocolate Chex Dodge Charger) – 13th

“Kyle had a good car yesterday in practice, and he got a lap down tonight. I think he had a little trouble in that wreck. He was able to come back and stay out there at the end and make up a few spots. That was good for him. We were terrible all night long. We just missed all the wrecks. We just weren’t good enough.”

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REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) – 4th

“One of the few buddies I have out here won the race, so I’m pretty pumped up I had a good run and my boy won, so I’m pretty excited right now. We took a little gamble right there at the end. We’d run in the top 10 all day. We might not have had a fourth-place car, but we had a 10th-place car. The last four laps I wasn’t even going full throttle, maybe half throttle trying to save a little fuel, and as soon as I crossed the line it ran out. We got lucky, but the numbers came out right. I was very worried about the fuel lasting. When we first started they said we were two laps short. It was going to be close, but I’m pretty happy we made it.

“We need a boost. We needed to win, but this is close enough right now. It was a good run. We had a top 10 all day, so we’ll take fourth. Luck finally fell our way a little bit. I can count on my hands my number of friends out here. Casey and I are pretty good friends. He was my teammate last year and we still talk a lot, so I wanted to go congratulate him.”

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Charger)

“We had a good car. We got the Lucky Dog, and we were going to be one of 15 cars on the lead lap. The car was good from the start. There was a little give and take. We fell back track position wise and worked our way back up. We just had a bad set of tires there at the end. We chunked out a right rear which never should have happened. It just shouldn’t have happened. I don’t know what happened with that tire, but either way, we had a good run with the alltel Dodge. We were back on the lead lap with a bad set of tires and the engine let go. Streaks always end (Newman had recorded three straight top 10 finishes entering the Coca-Cola 600). They never really begin. Everybody at Penske Racing has been doing a great job. We’ve just got to keep it up and stay focused. This is something that could get us down, but it shouldn’t. I’m looking forward to Dover. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. Our car of tomorrow program has been strong, so it’s something that can be very positive for us. We’ve just got to make it happen. I don’t think anything was out of character tonight for the 600. There was one big accident and it was because of a cut left rear tire on the 48 car. That’s just going to happen sometimes.”

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

“We had a really good car early on and every time I came in it was like roulette. What tires are we going to get? How’s the car going to handle? I was in position for the Lucky Dog and the car just jumped out from underneath me. Truex was on us, but I just lost it I guess. I just can’t wait to get to Dover. I thought we had a really good car early on. It just didn’t stick for us when the track got better for everybody. It’s funny how we just ran the same lap times all night. We were really good in the daytime but horrible at night “



 


 

STATESVILLE, N.C. (May 22, 2007) – Elliott Sadler will turn into a super hero for the Coca-Cola 600, running a special Fantastic Four paint scheme on the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Charger.

 

In honor of the debut of the “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” movie, produced by Fox Studios and scheduled for release in theaters on June 15th, the No. 19 Dodge Charger will be transformed into the Dodge Fantasticar.

 

The movie, directed by Tim Story, stars Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis, the same foursome that made the original Fantastic Four such a success.

 

The No. 19 will feature a stunning paint scheme that showcases the ghost-like Silver Surfer shooting across the hood, while flames explode over the nose and up the fenders of the Fantasticar. The familiar Fantastic Four logo will also adorn both rear quarter panels.      

 

“The No. 19 ’Fantasticar’ Dodge Charger is a great new look for Elliott’s car, and we expect his race car’s performance will rival that of the Fantasticar in the movie,” said Mike Accavitti, Director, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing.  “Our motorsports program is an integral part of Dodge’s overall marketing strategy, and with the ‘Fantasticar’ Dodge Charger, we’re able to generate further awareness and interest with both general consumers and NASCAR fans.”

 

 “This is by far one of the coolest paint schemes I’ve ever seen, let alone be able to drive,” Sadler said. “This is something every little kid dreams about. Now, not only do I get to drive a race car, but I get to drive a race car with super heroes on it!

 

“I’m anxious to see how this Dodge Fantasticar is going to perform in our longest race of the year. We qualified really well at Charlotte in the fall but got caught up in a wreck early. It was my first race there with Evernham Motorsports and this time around I’m anticipating a really solid run in the Dodge Dealers Fantasticar.”

 

Sadler qualified fourth in his most recent race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger. He has one pole and seven top-five starts in 17 career races at the 1.5 mile quad-oval. His resume includes one top-five and two top-10 finishes there.

 

Dodge Supports the Fantastic Four with National Communications Campaign

 

Dodge is supporting the “Fantastic Four” with an integrated marketing campaign that includes Dodge vehicles and vehicle styling cues as featured stars of the movie, special toys based on the movie’s characters and an advertising campaign that will air in theaters around the country.

 

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Bill Eliott at Charlotte 2005

Photo by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times

 

Ford Racing legend Bill Elliott, 1988 Nextel Cup champion, takes over as driver of the No. 21 Ford Fusion this weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Elliott and Wood Brothers/JTG Racing co-owner Eddie Wood participated in a teleconference Tuesday afternoon during a break in testing at Rockingham. Forty of Elliott’s 44 career victories have been in a Ford, placing his second on the manufacturer’s all-time list.

BILL ELLIOTT – No. 21 Air Force Ford Fusion – THOUGHTS ON RE-JOINING FORD RACING AND RACING FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS STARTING THIS WEEKEND. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve known Len, Eddie, Leonard and all those boys for years and years and years. Early on, even, in my career, Leonard and Ernie really worked well together. Leonard was always good about keeping things kind of under his hat, but he did give Ernie a lot of pointers early on. It really helped us, especially on the reliability side of the engines. I think that was really important early on. With what they’ve done in racing, and they’ve kind of gotten themselves a little bit out of the points situation the way it is today, and we’re just trying to help them get back, and we’re just over here running around at Rockingham a little bit today to see what we can learn, and go to Charlotte this weekend.”

 

WHAT DOES IT MEANS TO BE A PART OF A LONG LINE OF VERY FAMOUS DRIVERS WHO HAVE DRIVEN THE NO. 21? “It’s an honor to be there, no doubt. My fondest memories, I was sitting in the infield in Atlanta, I think the spring of ’73, watching David Pearson in the 21 car win the race. To be able to be a part of this deal for ever how long it ends up being, a race or two or whatever, it’s a great honor from my standpoint. Most of the places I’ve been to this point, like Michael’s deal last year was a good deal, but yet it was more of try to get a program put together, and at least with Len and Eddie and the guys, it’s an established deal and hopefully we can come in and knock a few of the rough edges off – especially from my standpoint, since I haven’t been in a car since Daytona in the 150. So, that’s where I’ve got to kind of get back up to speed, and I mean it’s going to take a little bit of time to get that figured out. The main thing is, get them in the race and get it going and try to get some stuff turned around and help try to get them back in the top 35 in points.”

 

IN ADDITION TO BEING A PAST CHAMPION, YOU ARE ALSO A GREAT QUALIFIER. DO YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED TO FALL BACK ON PAST CHAMPION’S PROVISIONALS? “Charlotte’s going to be a crap shoot since I haven’t been in anything here in the last little bit. I feel like with the surface of the race track, we went over and tested a Busch car for Braun Racing a little bit – the race track is so unpredictable. And that’s the things you run into. The bad thing about [Charlotte], you practice in the middle of the afternoon and you qualify at 7-10 at night. If you draw an early number, sometimes that has been very detrimental in your qualifying effort. The temperature might not play a part, it’s being prepared – getting your preparation ready to qualify can always be a deal because you run and hour and a half, or so, and then you turn around and go right into inspection to get ready to qualify. If you’re a late number, you can work and get a little bit better then work into you’re qualifying effort, but if you’re on the first cars out then, man, you got to hustle, make some quick decisions, get it done and then go on. Another thing that’s always played a key factor in these deals is when you’re not one of the multi-car teams. If you’ve got one of your teammates that goes out earlier, you can kind of compare notes, so to speak, as qualifying goes on to see, ‘Well, I need to put a pound in the right front or right rear. I need to do this, I need to do that.’ So, it does give you some adjustability, where we’re just going to have to go in and figure it out the best we can because I haven’t been in one of those non-car of tomorrow testing deals for the 21. Like I say, it’s going to be a tough deal, but yet we’ll make the best of it. Whatever happens happens. At least we’ll get them in the show and then kind of go from there.”

 

CAN YOU COMPARE THE CHALLENGES OF A PART-TIME DRIVER VERSUS A FULL-TIME DRIVER? “It’s getting more difficult – you really can’t be part-time anything anymore. It’s just like coming over here and running today – you about need to be in a race car every day. I have kept myself going pretty good. I try to keep a pretty good workout regiment, and I’ve been running some other stuff, just keeping my hands in it in case this does come up, or whatever ended up doing as this year progressed. One thing is going to be tough, it is going into a 600-mile race, and that’ll be tough from my standpoint. But the flipside, at least it’ll be going into the coolness of the night, so that’ll make it a lot easier for the physical endurance-side, but, still, for the guys that do it every week, those guys are going to have a little bit of an edge on you, at least, right off the bat. We can get to that point, but when you go in and you start unloading and you get ready for qualifying and you work through those deals, because I hadn’t worked with these guys and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get that communication point, and you might get it in the first hour, it might take until practice on Saturday or whatever. And that’s kind of my point – sometimes this stuff is hard to work through and get everything figured out.

 

YOU ARE RACING BOTH CUP AND BUSCH THIS WEEKEND. HOW DO YOU SEE THE REST OF YOUR NASCAR SEASON UNFOLDING? ANYTHING DEFINITE WITH ANY OTHER TEAMS? “No, not really. Right now we’re taking it a step at a time, we’re going to take it a race at a time and see how things go. I had already agreed with the guys over at Braun Racing to do the 32 car a while back, at Charlotte, and then when Eddie called me and wanted me to do this deal, it’s like, ‘This is going to be a tough weekend on an old man,’ so like I said a minute ago, we’ll have to make the best of it. I’ll have to get a lot of Geritol, or something.”

WHEN DID THIS DEAL START GETTING TALKED ABOUT, AND DID YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT FOR A WHILE BEFORE YOU SAID YES? “Eddie called me the other week. I guess going into Darlington we spoke, and I said, ‘Whatever you guys want to do.’ We’ve got a close enough relationship over the years that if I can help out, here I am, I’ll do the best I can, and if it don’t work out we’ll go our separate ways and head on down the road. The way the sport’s changed, it’s just tough on these guys because you start out the year, you’ve got five races to get you locked in the top 35 and then every race after that tends to count, and if you have a little bit of bad luck and you knock yourself out of that top 35, then you go in the gate with a whole different agenda, which is so hard for these guys to get realigned. They’ve been around too long and meant too much to the sport not to try to give them a helping hand and help them get back to where they need to be.”

 

YOU ARE ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, LIKE THOSE IN THE MEDIA. WHY DO YOU THINK CHEVROLET IS DOMINATING THIS YEAR, AND FORD IS STRUGGLING? “I don’t know if you can really answer that, because I think it comes back to the team and the execution and the people and how you put it all together, and between Hendrick, Gibbs and Childress, they have been able to put a nucleus of people together and make it work. Roush and the Ford stable over the years have been very strong, but yet just seems like for some reason they’ve lost a little bit or whatever – whether either it’s in the car of tomorrow or the current car or the program or everybody’s just stepped up a little different to the plate, but it does make it tough to try to come into these deals and see kind of where these guys are at and try to beat ’em because they have so strong to this point, and that’s what makes it tough on everybody else.”

 

BEING ONLY FOUR WEEKS AWAY FROM THE MICHIGAN RACE, ARE THERE PLANS FOR YOU TO RACE AT MICHIGAN ON FATHER’S DAY? YOU HOLD THE RECORD FOR MOST CONSECUTIVE VICTORIES THERE. “None right at the moment, but we’ll take it a race at a time and I’m sure we’ll know here in the next week or so where things are going to end up. Like I said, right now it’s just an honor to be back in there, even if it ends up just being for the 600, but we’ll see.”

 

ARE YOU TESTING A CAR OF TOMORROW TODAY? “Well, it’s a car of today, today.”

 

WHAT’S YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF IT, AND IF YOU DRIVE FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS AT DOVER, HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL DO? “I drove the car last year with the Red Bull guys a little bit, at Michigan I ran the car, and it’s just a little bit different. You have to approach it with a little bit different mindset. With these guys who have three, four races under their belt it’s going to be a challenge to get to where we need to be. We came to Rockingham – they put some sealer on the race track and it’s made it a little bit harder to figure things out here today – but the main thing is to get back in the saddle and see if we can pick up some pointers and help them when they do go to Dover.”

 

HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH CREW CHIEF MICHAEL (FATBACK) McSWAIN BEFORE? “No, we never have. I’ve seen him around a lot, talked to him a lot, but never have worked together. But, I’ve got all the confidence in the world in the group and that’s one of the reasons I’m here.”

 

ARE YOU HAVING AS MUCH FUN AS A PART-TIME DRIVER AS MARK MARTIN SEEMS TO BE HAVING? “I think I’m having more. I’ve just been having a great time. To be able to come and go, kind of, as you please and do the things you want to do, it’s more racing on your terms. To me, where I’m at in my career, I feel like it’s coming into a situation where it’s a good situation. I’ve been in those pressure cookers over the years at points in my career and to be able to come in and have a good time is probably more important than anything, now, to have some fun and go out and enjoy racing what it’s become today and make it easy, because it’s easy enough to make it hard but if you can go out and have a good time and make it something fun and enjoyable to do – and I think that’s where Mark is today, especially where he’s gone and what he’s doing, but I think ever since I made my decision in ’03 to run a partial schedule, that was the best decision I ever made that point in time.”

 

EDDIE WOOD – co-owner, No. 21 Air Force Ford Fusion – YOU HAVE ADDED ANOTHER LEGENDARY DRIVER TO THE LONG LIST THAT’S ALREADY DRIVEN FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU AND THE FAMILY? “That just makes it really special. We’ve got that big picture in our museum of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR that Mr. France and those guys came up with a few years ago, and, of course, Bill’s one of them, and I think he makes the 18th or 19th, I think maybe the 19th, one that’s actually driven that race car, my dad brought that up, and he was really proud of that. Actually, he was coming down here today, and he didn’t get to make it. Everybody’s really excited about it, and just really thank Bill for stepping in and trying to help us. That means a lot. We’ve been friends a long time over the years. When they first started, we were all younger and all that stuff and worked together on some things, and a lot of people don’t really know that. It’s just really a special deal.”

 

HOW MUCH DID THAT FRIENDSHIP PLAY INTO THIS OPTION? WOULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED WITH ANOTHER DRIVER THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW AS WELL AS BILL? “I don’t know. I just knew Bill. I think it was last Wednesday night before Darlington and I got to thinking about it – actually Jon had said something about it a couple, three weeks ago. He said, ‘Talk to Bill,’ and I was kind of just, ‘Ah, I don’t know if he’ll be interested or not,’ and kind of went on and then he brought it up again, and, ‘I think I’ll just call him,’ and the number I had was different, so I called a really good friend of mine and got the number and called and left my name, and he called me back the next morning, and here we are.”

 

WITH MICHAEL McSWAIN STEPPING INTO THE CREW CHIEF ROLE, HAVE HE AND ERNIE COPE CHANGED SEATS? IS EVERYBODY IN POSITION NOW? “Well, actually, Fatback’s kind of been in the background all year long and looking over things, but it’s really hard to really have two people, like two cooks in the kitchen at the same time. So I actually just decided that with the changes we were making, Fatback to go ahead and do the 21, and Ernie’s actually keeping up with the Busch cars and trucks, which is really going to help a lot, because it was really stretching Fatback to the limit, keeping up with five race teams, plus the personnel and stuff he was trying to look after. So, this, to us, seems like the right way to do it. You put Fatback where he’s most comfortable, back on the box, doing the crew-chief stuff, and then Ernie is going to keep up with the Busch cars and trucks to help them make them better, and we’re already into that.”

 

HOW MUCH OF THIS IS A NO-BRAINER TO BRING IN BILL ELLIOTT, WHO HAS SIX PAST CHAMPION’S PROVISIONALS? “It actually is a no-brainer. When you go to call someone like Bill and ask that question, it was kind of hard. I said, ‘We’ve been friends a long time,’ and all that, and I just said, ‘Hey, I’m in trouble. Can you help me?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ The friendship thing – in racing, there’s a lot of stuff now, as big as it is, as much money as there is and all that that goes on and the corporate world that we sort of live in, in a respect, it gets back to relationships. And the best things that happen in racing now are relationships. A lot people really don’t see that, or know about it, but the very fact that I’m sitting here with Bill, we’re testing here, it’s a relationship thing, it’s not a business thing.”

 

IS AIR FORCE ON THE CAR THIS WEEKEND? “Yes, this is an Air Force race.”

 

HOW DOES KEN SCHRADER FIT IN WITH ALL OF THIS? IS HE STILL WITH THE TEAM OR NOT? “Yes. Yes. Before we did all this, we sat down with Schrader and Jon, because they were the two out of the Cup car, and talked to them about it and they were all for it. Like I said, Jon came up with the idea, and Schrader was 100 percent ‘go do what you’ve got to do to try to make it better and get it back in the top 35.’ It’s still early in the season, so they’ll be back later on. Everybody was good with it. It gets back to the relationship thing – everybody was ‘whatever we can do to fix the 21 or help fix it, let’s go do it,’ and that’s kind of the way it happened.”

 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MAKING THE TOUGH DECISIONS THAT YOU HAVE TO MAKE WHEN YOUR TEAM IS ON THAT TOP-35 BUBBLE? “Yes. You wonder why you even have one of these things. If anybody ever tries to give you a Cup team, you need to run. You don’t want that deal. Things can really be good and then when you get outside that top-35 deal, your whole world changes. You stop eating, you stop sleeping. That’s the first thing that happens to you. And you’ll dread Fridays. And when it comes time to go to the race track, the biggest problem, and everybody’s who’s outside of the top 35 is in the same situation we are, everything you think about is qualifying. You don’t think about the race, you barely even prepare for it – it’s all about qualifying, because if you can’t get in, it doesn’t matter. Once you’re in – that’s the disadvantage to having to qualify in, you use up that first hour and half getting ready to qualify, and the guys who are in the top 35, they’ll use an hour of it getting ready to race and then throw on a set of tires and do what they’ve got to do, but they’ve got an hour on you, and hour-and-15-minute jump on you, and if you do get in, it’s just hard to ever catch that amount of practice back up. So, you just got to make the decisions to – the way we’ve been doing it is to get in, it’s all about getting in. And now with Bill on board, at least we can do both and kind of be normal for a period of time.”

 

WHEN YOU MOVED TO NORTH CAROLINA FROM STUART, VIRGINIA, IT OBVIOUSLY WASN’T GOING TO BE AN OVERNIGHT TRANSITION WITH YOU RUNNING BACK IN THE TOP-10 AGAIN EVERY WEEK, BUT ARE YOU SURPRISED NOW THAT YOU’RE NOT THERE AND IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYTHING? “We moved down to Charlotte with hopes of getting better, and that was the right move, just from the standpoint of where all the people and the stuff that you need are easily accessible. And we were doing fairly well when we were on the other side of town – we were over in Mooresville for a period of time. And then we decided to merge part of the company with ST Motorsports, which is a marketing company, which actually joined up two Busch teams and our Cup team and then we created two truck teams, and we bit off probably more than we should have at that point in time, and it’s really taken a lot of time and effort to get competitive with anything, because we’ve got so much going on. But the way we’re kind of doing it now, to separate it a little bit and have different people focus on different things, I think, is going to be a lot better for us. We’re almost like a brand-new team ourselves, so we’ve got a lot of growing pains there. That kind of led us to we are where we are, and you do what you gotta to do.”

 

THIS WAS PRETTY BIG THAT JON WOULD SUGGEST PUTTING BILL IN THE CAR BECAUSE IT TOOK HIM OUT OF THE CHARLOTTE RACE. DOES THIS AFFECT HIS CUP FUTURE AT ALL? WHAT’S HIS NEXT CUP RACE? PLUS, REALISTICALLY, ALTHOUGH THIS IS A RACE-TO-RACE DEAL, IS THE PLAN FOR BILL TO RUN THE 21 UNTIL GETS BACK IN THE TOP 35 IN POINTS? “We haven’t really talked that far ahead. We just actually, you know, ‘Will you help us?’ ‘Yep, I will,’ and we shook hands and there’s no paperwork, there’s just a handshake, like it used to be, which is kind of cool. And back to Jon giving up the race, like I said, it was his idea. We tested at Charlotte two weeks ago or whenever it was and I think we were 12th-quickest overall, but we were seventh of the guys that had to get in – which is in. But if you get an early draw over there, it’s really out of your hands, and we’ve not been very lucky on draws and stuff lately. He just said that’s what you ought to do to make sure you can get in, so that’s how it kind of got started. At the Open the other night, the qualifying speed that we had would’ve been in, in relation to the other guys, so I think we’re going to be okay and hopefully not even use any of Bill’s stuff.”

 

THIS IS ONE OF THE FEW TIMES WHEN WOOD BROTHERS RACING CAN USE ONE OF NASCAR’S RULES TO ITS ADVANTAGE. THAT’S PRETTY SLICK. “I hadn’t really looked at it that way, but I did go through all the proper channels before I got too far with it. I didn’t want to do anything that was wrong or unethical or against anybody’s rulebook or whatever. I did go through some proper channels to make sure I was doing the right thing and how to do it and all that stuff. But, this one did kind of work in our favor here. And I’ve had things they’ve done work my way before – you know, everybody complains that stuff that’s in the rule book or things that are there that doesn’t really work well for them, but that’s the only thing you ever hear about. The stuff that works right, nobody ever says anything about it.”

 

Colorado’s Tyler Smith claims first BFTS event championship

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (May 19, 2007) – The Ford Country Classic part of the Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR) Built Ford Tough Series presented by Wrangler (BFTS) concluded tonight from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.  The 18th stop on the elite BFTS treated 18,000 Texas bull riding fans to big scores and rank wrecks. Event alternate, Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) made the most of his weekend in San Antonio by claiming his first ever BFTS event championship and $29,880 in PBR bucks.

“Winning my first BFTS event is awesome,” said Smith. The 20 year old has competed in 12 elite BFTS events during the 2007 season but his highest placing prior to San Antonio was tying for 12th in Nampa, Idaho.

Smith credited his bulls for his victory. “I just drew two great bulls tonight and made the most of the situation,” Smith added. “I’ve been down in the standings and just knew I needed to do good in San Antonio to move up in the standings.”

Smith’s first round score of 86.75 points on Mud Flap owned by Bonsall Bucking Bulls was enough to be the 13th ranked cowboy going into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.  His final ride aboard Re-vamp owned by Chumley Cattle Company earned him 90 points and eventually the event championship.

2004 PBR World Champion, Mike Lee (Decatur, Texas) put out his best effort but ended up .25 points short of the title. In fact, the scoring was so tight that the event champion had to be verified by computer calculation at the conclusion of the event.

“He (Tyler) has a lot of heart,” said Mike Lee after the event. “He’s got a lot of talent and I’ve never seen him stop trying. He’s going to be a great bull rider.”

In an electrifying first round of the Ford Country Classic, 22 cowboys made the eight second whistle. 2002 PBR World Champion, Ednei Caminhas (P. Alves, Sao Paulo, Brazil) claimed the top spot in the round with form reminiscent of his championship year, scoring 89 points on D&H/Anderson’s Cosmo. However, he failed to make the required eight seconds on Eddie Munster owned by Roy Carter Bucking Bulls in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

In the race for the PBR World Championship, Justin McBride (Elk City, Okla.) and J.B. Mauney (Mooresville, N.C.) are 568.25 points apart with McBride continuing to lead the 2006 Daisy Rookie of the Year.  McBride had a prime opportunity to pull even further away from Mauney when he qualified for the Championship Round, because Mauney failed to ride his first round bull.  However, Cat Daddy of Diamond S Bucking Bulls quickly turfed McBride in the final round, resulting in a missed opportunity to accumulate more BFTS Points.

Don’t miss one second of the action as the battle for the PBR world title continues to intensify.  The inaugural Jupiters Casino PBR World Cup will air on VERSUS when the event bucks out of the chutes from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia on June 8 – 10. The best of the best return from hiatus for the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Nashville, Tenn. on June 16 and 17. VERSUS will air the event on June 16 at 9 p.m. ET and on Sunday, June 17 at 8 p.m. ET. Be sure to check your local listings for complete broadcast information.

Injury Report:
J.B. Mauney (Moorseville, N.C.) Sustained a strained right knee. Mauney will compete in Nashville.

Travis Briscoe (Edgewood, N.M.) Sustained a strained neck, x-rays are scheduled for Monday. He is probable for Nashville.

BEHIND THE CHUTES:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s “Ride with the Best” Match-up Bonus:
As the winner of the Nampa, Idaho event, Sean Willingham (Summerville, Ga.) was eligible for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car “Ride with the Best” bonus money in San Antonio. Willingham was successful in the first round on Page and Teague Bucking Bulls’ Lil’ Slinger for $5,000 in Enterprise Rent-A-Car bonus money.  As the Ford Country Classic event winner, Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) will be eligible for the bonus when the PBR returns from hiatus in Nashville, Tenn. for the Jack Daniel’s Invitational.

Ford Truck Moment of Truth Bonus:
Ednei Caminhas (P. Alves, Sao Paulo, Brazil) led the event going into the Built Ford Tough Championship round but did not earn the Ford Country Classic event title, therefore losing the $5,000 Ford Truck Moment of Truth Bonus.  The bonus will increase to $10,000 in Nashville, Tenn.

Ford Super Duty Challenge:
As the Ford Country Classic event winner, Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) has qualified for a chance to compete at the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals, against all other 2007 Built Ford Tough Series event winners, for $50,000 toward the purchase of a 2007 Ford Super Duty Truck. The Ford Super Duty Challenge contestant who finishes the highest in the event aggregate during the 2007 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals will win the Ford Super Duty Challenge.

Bully Dog Short Go Top Qualifier:
Ednei Caminhas (P. Alves, Sao Paulo, Brazil) was awarded $2,500 for being the bull rider with the highest cumulative score (i.e. highest in the event average) going into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and for properly displaying the Top Qualifier Patch.

Salem National Lease Bull of the Event:
Chicken on a Chain of Robinson/Tedesco/Larry the Cable Guy claimed the High Marked Bull of the Ford Country Classic title and $1,250 as a part of Salem National Lease’s exciting bonus program. The program awards $1,250 to the top bull of the event as determined by the PBR judges’ bull scores.  

Cabela’s World’s Foremost Ride:
Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) recorded the highest marked ride of the event when he topped Re-Vamp of Chumley Cattle Company for 90 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round    In doing so, he earned a $1,000 bonus.

The rider who achieves the highest score at each BFTS regular season event during the 2007 BFTS regular season excluding the PBR World Finals receives a bonus of $1,000 for the event. The PBR athlete who achieves the highest marked qualifying ride during the entire 2007 BFTS regular season, excluding the PBR World Finals event will receive $25,000, while second and third place finishers will be awarded $10,000 and $5,000 respectively. The bull rider that achieves the highest marked ride through the course of the entire 2007 PBR BFTS World Finals will earn an additional $10,000.

Justin McBride (Elk City, Okla.) is in the lead for the Cabela’s World’s Foremost Ride bonus of $25,000 with his 93-point performance in Auburn Hills, Mich. on Chicken on a Chain, owned by Robinson, Tedesco and Larry the Cable Guy.

AlphaTrade National Champion Standings:
A new bonus program offered by AlphaTrade will present the 2007 Built Ford Tough Series regular season champion, defined by PBR rules to be the rider with the highest BFTS points total at the end of the regular season, with $50,000 and the opportunity to win up to $200,000. The winner will be determined and announced at the Rocky Boots Invitational this year in Columbus, Ohio in October. At present, Justin McBride has a lock on the top spot however North Carolina’s J.B. Mauney is trailing McBride by a mere 568.25 BFTS points.

Ford Country Classic Event Results:

FORD COUNTRY CLASSIC FIRST ROUND RESULTS:  1) Ednei Caminhas (P. Alves, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 89 points on D&H/Anderson’s Cosmo, $2,730, 2) Guilherme Marchi (Leme, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 88.75 points on Boyd/Floyd/Paradise Farms’ Wild Life, $1,950, 3) Brendon Clark (Morpeth, NSW, Australia) 88.5 points on Haines/Owen’s Pandemonium, $1,170; 4) Paulo Crimber (Olimpia, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 88.25 points on Boyd/Floyd/Paradise Farms’ Hillstreet, $780; 5) Matt Bohon (Cole Camp, Mo.) 88 points on Sunny Arocha’s Red Ant, $468.

BUILT FORD TOUGH CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND RESULTS: 1) Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) 90 points on Chumley Cattle Co.’s Re-vamp, $2,730; 2) Mike Lee (Decatur, Texas) 89.25 points on McCoy Ranches’ Bells Blue, $1,950; 3) Sean Willingham (Summerville, Ga.) 88 points on Page & Teague Bucking  Bulls’ Sunshine, $1,170.

OVERALL EVENT RESULTS: 1) Tyler Smith (Fruita, Colo.) 176.75 points, $29,880; 2) Mike Lee (Decatur, Texas) 176.50 points, $15,795; 3) Sean Willingham (Summerville, Ga.) 174.75 points, $15,320; 4) Ednei Caminhas (P. Alves, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 89 points, $10,630.

BUILT FORD TOUGH SERIES POINT STANDINGS: 1) Justin McBride (Elk City, Okla.) 8,015.75 points; 2) J.B. Mauney (Mooresville, N.C.) 7,447.50 points, 3) Sean Willingham (Summerville, Ga.) 5,114.5 points, 4) Guilherme Marchi (Leme, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 4,830.75 points; 5) Brian Canter (Randleman, N.C.) 4458.25 points; 6) Kasey Hayes (Liberal, Kan.) 4,031.25 points; 7) Jason Bennett (Honeygrove, Texas) 3,919 points; 8) Mike Lee (Decatur, Texas) 3,860.25, 9) Paulo Crimber (Olimpia, Sao Paulo, Brazil) 3,715, 10) Beau Hill (West Glacier, Mont.) 3,675.

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Nashville, TN 05/12/2007
Story by: Jeff Kluss/Sports Image Times

Photography by: Jeff Kluss / Sports Image Times

Okay, the second weekend in May for the past 66 years has held a special place in the hearts of many residents of Nashville, Tennessee and tons of visitors to this great spectacle of Horses, Hats, and Hounds. It may not be as notable as Kentucky’s Derby Week at Churchill Downs, but it certainly is every bit as much fun and additionally has contributed over $8 million to the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in the last 26 years.

 

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The 66th Annual Iroquois SteeplechaseSM, was presented by Bank of America. It was an afternoon of pageantry, competition and festivities that featured six exciting horse races with purses and bonuses totaling $415,000. The Iroquois Steeplechase is the richest race on the National Steeplechase Association Spring Circuit.

 

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This great event is put on by Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation and The Friends of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. More than 100 committee chairs and 600 volunteers make the event possible. By our estimates we witnessed almost 40,000 souls having the time of their lives and one of the largest tail-gaiting affairs in Tennessee. The infield was the largest party in the State, revelers were not disappointed.

Okay, now for a little history on Steeplechasing itself. American steeplechasing traces its lineage to Ireland, but owes its life to nine men from New York. August Belmont, H. DeCourcy Forbes, Samuel S. Howland, James O. Green, Frederick Gebhard, A.J. Cassatt, Foxhall P. Keene, John G. Follansbee and Frederick H. Prince founded the National Steeplechase Association. The purposes of the organization, according to the original charter dated February 15, 1895, have changed little.

Those men created an association to keep records; govern, promote and hold races; advance steeplechasing throughout the United States; license individuals and race meetings.

Spawned from the foxhunting field, jump racing had occurred earlier, but never under such sanction. Meets took place on Long Island and in northern New Jersey before spreading south to the Carolinas and Tennessee.

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In Europe, racing started much earlier. The first recorded steeplechase occurred in 1752 in County Cork, Ireland. Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake engaged in a match race, covering about 4 1/2 miles from St. John’s Church at Buttevant to St. Mary’s Church in Doneraile. Church steeples were the most prominent, and tallest, landmarks on the landscape. Though history did not record the winner of the O’Callaghan-Blake race, the sport took its name from this simple “chase to the steeple.”

 

Steeplechasing’s backbone from the start was a group of one-day meetings in rural communities. Gradually, the focus shifted to major tracks like New York’s Belmont and Aqueduct and New Jersey’s Monmouth Park. That trend reversed itself in the 1970s and 1980s as race meetings run for charity expanded throughout the country.

 

The association today, based in Fair Hill, Md., includes 1,000 dues-paying members and licensees, a 15-member board of directors and a four-person staff. The racing season begins in early March and continues through November, hosting an estimated one million spectators. Participants in American steeplechasing travel the circuit from pockets of steeplechase interest in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

 

As for this great event, the Iroquois is a great time to be had by all. It is a tradition of debutants and genteel ladies in flowing summer dresses and large hats. The men will typically don their seersucker suits with fine straw panama hats, while the younger gentlemen will wear seersucker Bermuda shorts with ties of various bright colors. It is a day filled with picnic lunches and of course cold beverages. But when the first races begins at 1:00 pm the crowd’s focus is on the turf-way of Percy Warner Park. The day consists of six races with the last one ending at approximately 5:00 pm, but the parties continue for a while after that.

 

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The participants are deadly serious about their performances. It’s a day filled with thrills, spills (this time there were no serious injuries), and proud winners. We at Sports Image Times do not consider this as serious a sport as say flat track racing for the Triple Crown, but it is definitely a spectacle worth viewing and a time worth having. With the prevalence of these great events contributing so much to charitable causes we would definitely recommend that you get out and take the family to a day at the races. It may not have the excitement of a $2 window and a stadium hot dog with mustard and a beer, but it is definitely a great way to spend a day for a great cause.

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We would like to thank all the great folks that volunteered so much time and enormous efforts to bringing off a great day at the races, especially the Co-Chairs Donna C. Dalton and Cathy Rowan East. We would also like to thank Jason A. Mackey who is with The Bradford Group and worked to get us everything we as media needed to bring you this article.

 

 

 

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Image furnished by Linda Shier/SIT

Charlotte, NC May11, 2007

 

Okay, what do Dale Jr., DEI, RCR (Richard Childress Racing), and the rumor mill have in common?  Well to develop our bit of insider information into a supportable best guess we need to build our little story for the readers so they understand.  Yes, it is old news that Little E didn’t get along with Mommy Dearest otherwise known as Teresa since he was about five years old.  In fact it had regressed so far that Kelly, Jr.’s sister, had to act as intermediary for quite some time between the two.  So when Jr. announces that the contract will not be renewed, it comes as no surprise since that has been the speculation for the last year and a half.

 

Now throw into the mix the fact that Dale Jr. met with Richard Childress some months back to discuss his possibly going with RCR for a short term (rumor has it for one year) to revitalize and reintroduce the #3 car which is as we all know the number that Dale Sr. ran for 7 championships……then things begin to come into focus.  Let’s take into account also that Teresa and her high-powered Wall Street negotiator tried to leverage $70+ million out of Jr. for a 51% stake in an operation that’s not worth 10% of that without Jr. in the stable.  This is not only bizarre, but also rates as the height of folly by Teresa in thinking that she could possibly get that out of Jr.

 

Is the picture becoming clear?  Is the crystal ball becoming less fuzzy?  Now let’s start to begin to second-guess a little bit of what could be very real.  Let’s say Jr. takes a one year deal with RCR which has room in it’s stable for one more Cup addition to remain within the 4 car limit that NASCAR is going to enforce starting next year.  This could be very real since both Richard and Jr. could make a tidy profit off of such a situation simply on royalties from licensed products.  Heck I would buy that piece of die-cast!  DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) without a Budweiser deal, no Jr., and a lack of clear leadership winds up being auctioned on the courthouse steps to stave off the profuse bleeding of capital at the start of the 2009 Season.  Behold, Junior to the rescue and purchases DEI for pennies on the dollar bringing AB (Anheiser-Busch) back into the fold and he takes over the reigns as majority owner with some serious backing from who knows where.

 

Well one thing about all this hullabaloo, we are betting that Junior comes out on top no matter how this little scene plays out.  We are also willing to take odds on him owning the controlling interest in DEI before it is all over with and he will finally have his complete birth rite as it was intended.  Oh, now if you can’t buy what we have stated here…….our friend and consulting editor Jack “Iron Man” Ingram is betting that it will be a short term deal with Joe Gibbs since Hendrick has no room at the Inn.  Personally, I want to see Junior run the #3 for a Season just for grins.  How about you?

 

 

Customer Mustangs Make European RACING debut; FR500C CAPTURES WIN IN INAUGURAL GT4 EVENT

 

·· Customer teams debuted the Mustang FR500C in GT4 European Cup competition and the Mustang FR500GT in FIA GT3 competition this past weekend at Silverstone in Great Britain.

·· The Mustang FR500C won the first-ever GT4 European Cup race with driver Gunnar Jeannette.

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DEARBORN, Mich., May 10 – After successfully completing the homologation process for GT4 European Cup and FIA GT3 competition, the Mustang FR500C and Mustang FR500GT made their competition debuts this past weekend at Silverstone in Great Britain with the FR500C racing to victory.

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The Multimatic-entered Mustang FR500C won the inaugural GT4 European Cup race on Sunday in the hands of driver Gunnar Jeannette, while a TopSpeed-entered FR500GT driven by Kenneth Heyer and Eric De Doncker finished 29th in GT3.

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“We are very pleased that both of our Mustang race cars have completed the homologation process and now are officially in competition,” said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. “We’ve said from the start that this would be a customer program, and we believe both race cars will be very competitive in these series once the teams have time to work with them. To have the Mustang FR500C win its first race is just icing on the cake to the race weekend.”

 

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Gunner Jeannette on the Podium at Silverstone

This victory marks the second time the FR500C has won its initial appearance in a professional racing series. The first came in the 2005 KONI Challenge Series (then known as Grand-Am Cup) season opener at Daytona International Speedway en route to capturing the series’ driver, team and manufacturer championships. This season, it has won all three KONI Challenge races and currently leads the driver, team and manufacturer standings.

 

The Mustang racing programs in Europe are strictly a customer-based venture, initiated by U.S.-based Ford Racing as an extension of its performance parts program. With the Ford Mustang only available for sale in North America, Ford’s European racing operations are aware of the program, however there is no involvement on its part.

 

For this effort, Ford Racing has once again partnered with Multimatic Motorsports, which assisted in the homologation process for both vehicles. Multimatic is the exclusive sales representative and distributor of homologated FR500GT and FR500C Mustangs for FIA GT3 and GT4 European Cup competition and is responsible for supplying spare parts and actively interfacing with teams and sanctioning bodies.

 

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Lexington, KY April 25, 2007

Keeneland is the experience we have been looking for throughout our adventures through the sporting world.  This is a facility that is second to none, and has some of the friendliest folks working there we have ever experienced as well.

 

We were covering the Rolex **** Three Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington and figured that we should drop by Keeneland to see what all the hoopla we have heard over the years was all about and did we ever find out.  There were only two days left in their Spring season of racing and the air was filled with electricity as we were driving through Lexington to get there.  The incredible horse farms on the way there set the mood and when you see the incredible red and white structures of Calumet Farms is when you start understanding what the history of Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky is all about.

 

We then approached the entrance framed within large stone columns which stood like big monoliths welcoming you to racing history.  Keeneland was first opened in 1936 and is definitely the Queen of all the racing facilities in the United States.  The drive up the magnificent lane with brick insets along the way is exciting.  The estate is covered with beautiful stone structures that look like they should be at Camelot with King Arthur presiding. 

We pull into the parking lot and walk up to the administration building to get our credentials and are greeted by some of the friendliest smiles and helpful folks.  Our adventure begins in spite of the rain and cool temperatures as we proceed to the main gate.  Once we go through the gate we enter into a brick-lined courtyard which has large oaks and willows and a huge Rolex clock with the name Keeneland at the top.  This is the trademark of Keeneland and of course is a clear demonstration of the classy side of the facility.  The courtyard is the area where the horses for the next race are brought up from the bordering barns.  The grooms begin their warm-ups prior to the race by walking them around on the brick-lined paths.  The other commanding feature of the courtyard is how the walls are covered in ivy and the entire feature is lined with great green hedges.

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Next the horses are then taken to another adjoining yard lined with hedges where the jockeys join their steeds.  Once they have been paraded around to the observing betters then they go through a tunnel toward the track.  Of course the public is not allowed in the tunnel area so you must traverse to your seat via the route of the betting windows.  You can cut the excitement with a knife and like most tracks there is an air of fun mixed with the serious concentration of pouring over the racing forms.

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When we approached the front of the stands we saw what folks had been telling us about concerning some of the renovations at Keeneland.  The infield is sporting a nice new electronic leader/tote board replete with a great jumbo-tron television screen and then another screen which is an electronic representation of the positioning of the horses as they go around the track much like you see on the television watching the NASCAR races.  This is a great addition and is the only one like it that we have seen and was a great investment by Keeneland for the fans.

 

Of course you can’t have a race without the bugler calling to colors before the race, and as at most tracks you have a gentleman that has been a fixture at the facility for years.  Keeneland is no different.  After watching seven races we finally decided to have our ritual track-side meal of a great hot-dog covered in mustard.

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To make a short story of a great day, Sports Image Times definitely recommends that if you have never had the pleasure of visiting Keeneland get moving when they have their next racing season beginning on October 5th through the 27th.   For that matter, even if they aren’t running the ponies you still need to visit them.  It is definitely a great facility with great employees and can provide smiles galore when you walk through the gate.

Story by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times

Copyright Sports Image Times 2007

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