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NASCAR Daily News Headlines * February 4, 2009
Menard On Shootout PoleYates Racing's Paul Menard will sit on the pole for the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. Joining Menard on the front row will be Richard Petty Motorsports' Elliott Sadler as the 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers drew for starting positions Thursday night.
Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start ninth as he opens his second season for Hendrick Motorsports in the 75-lap exhibition race. His teammate, three-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, will start 21st. Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon drew the last starting spot -- four of the last six starting positions were drawn by drivers in Chevrolets.
The field is comprised of seven entrants from each of the four participating manufacturers. The top six drivers, based on owners points from the previous season, from each manufacturer (based on their 2009 manufacturer alignment) are in the event. Each manufacturer gets a seventh driver, either a past Cup champion or another car based on owners points.
Robby Gordon elected to participate in a Dodge although he is switching to Toyota for 2009. Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. is one of the top six Dodges based on the owners points he obtained from the No. 22 car owned by Bill Davis, but the paperwork was done too late to get him into the Budweiser Shootout. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. ET Saturday.
Ambrose Locked Into 500Marcos Ambrose said Thursday that he's "cautiously optimistic" that the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota will be locked into the Daytona 500. NASCAR notified the team Wednesday that the No. 47 secured the final spot in the top 35 in owner points, guaranteeing Ambrose a starting position in the first five races for the season.
"I'll wait until we begin the Daytona 500 until I breathe again," Marcos said with a laugh. "It looks like we're in the 500. NASCAR spoke with us this morning and yesterday and if nothing changes we will be lining up for the 500 — which is a huge relief. We support — Michael Waltrip Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing — NASCAR's move and position on this stance as it has played out. Every team has earned its position in the top 35. Three teams have dropped out in the offseason, so it's natural that some get shifted up."(foxsports.com)
Goodyear Building Bigger TireGoodyear is developing a wider, taller tire that could improve racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, but the tire won't be ready for competition until sometime next year at the earliest, a company official said. Goodyear officials hope to test the tire at a track in the second half of the season, said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales.
The tire could make its debut at the short- track events in 2010 if things go well. That would follow how NASCAR phased in the Car of Tomorrow. The main advantage of a taller, wider tire is it could give drivers more grip. That would help the car's handling and could give teams improved tire wear.
"We're operating right on the edge of the envelope for our current package," Stucker said. "The new car definitely seems to stress tires differently with the additional right-side weight, it's harder on those right sides. We would like to go taller and wider to... make the tire a little bit more forgiving and a little less sensitive to maybe guys missing the setup or maybe being more aggressive on their setups."
Goodyear's current Cup tire is 28.5 inches tall and 11-12 inches wide, depending on the track configuration. Stucker said that Goodyear officials are looking at making the tire 1.5 to 2 inches taller and the same amount wider. That creates issues, though. A taller, wider tire will force teams to alter their cars and that could cause headaches.
"When you raise the car up, obviously, you change your suspension pickup points and so on and so forth," Stucker said. "We're trying to be very careful in approaching this. If there are going to be changes necessary, make sure they're the right changes and let's think through it. We're proceeding fairly cautiously."
Another issue is that Stucker said that Goodyear would have to alter its equipment to produce a different-sized tire. That will take time.
"We've got to make some fairly significant changes, which we are in the process of planning and getting ready to do," Stucker said. "That's going to take some time to upgrade all of that equipment."(hamptonroads.com)
Race Times Change For 2009Sixteen of NASCAR's 36 Sprint Cup Series points races will start at 2 p.m., two fewer than last year, while six events will start earlier in 2009 as part of the schedule NASCAR released on Tuesday. The Budweiser Shootout will start 20 minutes earlier, at 8:10 instead of 8:30 p.m. ET while the Aug. 22 Bristol night race will start at 7:30 pm. instead of 8 p.m. and the Talladega Superspeedway race Nov. 1 will start at 1 p.m. instead of the 2 p.m. start it had in early October last year – most likely a product of the time change and the lack of lights at the track.
The final three races are also earlier starts, all at 3:15 p.m. Eastern, compared with a 3:30 p.m. start at Texas Motor Speedway and 3:45 p.m. starts at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami to end the year in 2008. Races starting later than last year will be the Feb. 22 race at Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway, which will start at 6 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. Eastern and the May 24 race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway that will start at 5:45 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m.
The fall California race, which was a night race on Labor Day weekend last year, will start at 3:15 p.m. Eastern, compared with the 8 p.m. Eastern start last year. Likewise, the Labor Day race at Atlanta will start at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, compared with the 2 p.m. start Atlanta had when its race was in October last year.(scenedaily.com)
Reutimann Picks Up Full SponsorshipTeam owner Michael Waltrip said Thursday that Aaron's will sponsor the No. 00 Toyota of Michael Waltrip Racing's David Reutimann for the full 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Sseason. The rental store chain had previously committed to sponsoring the car for half the season but recently agreed to come on board for the full 36-race campaign, he said. A press conference is scheduled this weekend to officially announce the sponsorship, Waltrip said.(scenedaily.com)
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