What Got Danica Patrick In Daytona 500 Questioned, But Don’t Expect Changes

Team owner Tommy Baldwin has entered into a partnership with Stewart Haas Racing that will allow Danica Patrick, who is scheduled to compete in 10 races with Tony Stewart's team, a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500. This has raised questions about the validity of NASCAR's top-35 rule.

When I learned that Danica Patrick was guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500 because Stewart Haas Racing, which plans to enter her in 10 races this year, had brokered a deal with Tommy Baldwin Racing, I knew there would be negative reaction.

In the arrangement Stewart Haas obtained TBR’s owner points. Since Baldwin’s No. 36 car finished 33rd in points last season it is guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races of this year.

The car will now carry the No. 10 for Patrick. Dave Blaney, who drove what was the No. 36 in 2011, must now qualify or race his way into the Daytona 500.

This news did not sit well with many. They claim it is a manipulation of NASCAR’s top 35 rule; one that allows a driver who has never started a Sprint Cup race entry into the year’s most prestigious, and financially rewarding, event.

Dave Moody of Sirius XM Radio is very knowledgeable about NASCAR and many times his opinions about its rules and policies hit the bulls’ eye.

Moody pointed out, and I heartily agree, that NASCAR’s top 35 rule has loopholes that teams have routinely used to their benefit.

Therefore, he maintains, Stewart Haas and TBR have done nothing wrong. They are simply taking advantage of what is open to them. And by doing that, they have effectively created a situation that will give Patrick a golden opportunity and, in turn, benefit TBR with either money, technical and pit support – or all three.

What they have done is nothing new. It’s been done routinely over the years and, while it is perfectly legal, it still creates confusion for the fans.

As Moody pointed out there are plenty of them who will ask how an untested rookie like Patrick makes the 500 while established veterans, like Blaney, have to labor to make it.

Moody expresses the opinion that it’s time for NASCAR to clean up this mess and decree that, beginning in 2013, guaranteed starting spots may only be used by the team that earned them a season earlier.

Dave, ol’ boy, you are right. I’m in agreement and I think many other fans and media members are right there in line with us.
But my guess is we are all going to be disappointed.

I certainly don’t know what goes on behind closed doors in NASCAR but, publicly, it has yet to give us any indication it’s going to alter the top 35 system.

I don’t think it really plans – or cares – to do so.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I asked someone in NASCAR management about questions surrounding the rule, I would get an answer something like this:

“As far as we’re concerned a team that has earned a position in the top 35 can do anything it wants with it. It has gained the right.”

And, if you ponder it for a moment, that’s a very logical answer.

While we might think the old way – when qualifying alone determined a field and if a driver wasn’t fast enough he went home – was infallible, think again.

Teams have been fooling around with qualifying rules for decades and it’s been especially prominent for the Daytona 500.

This scenario was played out countless times: At nearly every 500 it seemed there was always at least one top-tier, heavily-sponsored team that failed to qualify for the race.

There were times when such a team couldn’t race its way in through a 125-mile qualifier. There were still other times when the car was destroyed in practice and, without a backup, racing in the 500 was impossible.

The solution was simple. The unfortunate team went to another that had made the race – despite the fact that it had fewer resources.

An offer was made that couldn’t be refused. Would the second-tier team be willing to accept thousands of dollars to allow the big-buck organization’s driver and, most important, its sponsor to take its spot in the 500?

Many times the amount offered was more than the low-rung team could hope to make by actually racing, so it took the deal. It made sense.

NASCAR did nothing to stop the practice.

And it wasn’t limited to Daytona. Other races saw major stars – Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip come to mind – buy their way in.

Essentially, here’s why the top 35 rule came into existence. By the way, the rule states that any team among the top 35 in owner points from one season gets a free ride for the first five events of the current season.

After that, teams among the top 35 are assured a start – in other words, essentially exempt from qualifying – for the remainder of the season, provided they maintained their status.

There was a time when, during a vibrant economy, many teams enjoyed significant sponsorship, perhaps more so than in any other time in NASCAR’s history.

Problem was, not all of them could qualify for every race. And when they failed to do so they knew they were in danger of sponsor dissatisfaction – and a loss of needed income.

Additionally, teams that lost drivers who departed with sponsor in tow felt they were denied earned value and wanted some protection.

NASCAR isn’t stupid. It knew full well that to help its tracks by assuring, in some way, they would have virtually all of the top drivers and teams for their races – and to guarantee major sponsors entry into every event – it came up with the top 35 policy.

Let’s say it has been NASCAR’s way of protecting its assets, both competitive and financial.

And the rule has, for the most part, done exactly that.

Yes, it has loopholes. That’s been made abundantly clear.

But, again, those taking advantage of the gaps are doing nothing wrong.

Many of us decry that it certainly appears somewhat unfair and against the grain of real competition. But it’s reality.

And, right now, I don’t think NASCAR is going to do a thing to change it.

NASCAR’s Allmendinger Wins Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona

NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger drove the last stint of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on Sunday to win. The Penske Sprint Cup driver has had experience in both open wheel and NASCAR. Rick Hendrick says that the #51 Phoenix Racing Chevy is not a satellite car. He would consider selling Finch the best engines now that Kurt Busch is the driver. IndyCar tests with Rubens Barrichello at Sebring this week.

Much In NASCAR Ain’t Broke, So Don’t Fix It – For Now

Big-pack racing returned in Daytona testing as NASCAR sought to eliminate the two-car drafts that have been prevalent on the superspeedways. However, as much as this particular change has been effective, as of now there is no guarantee the two-car hookups won't return in the Daytona 500.

It’s never been unusual for NASCAR to put a positive spin on just about anything it does or its interpretation of its competitive environment. Truth be known, that’s what it should do.

However, during his “State of the Union” address at the annual Media Tour, when NASCAR CEO Brian France said, “The sport is in a very good place,” I was one of those who did not roll his eyes with the cynical thought we were getting another whitewash.

The fact is, France is absolutely correct. The 2010 Sprint Cup season was, overall, one of NASCAR’s best, one in which the positives far outweighed the negatives.

There have been times when new NASCAR policies and rules have done very little to improve its product but that was not the case last season.

Thanks in part to a simplified points system and the creation of a “wildcard” selection to the Chase that put an emphasis on victories, we saw what was the closest championship battle in NASCAR’s modern era – if not ever.

As you know, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards finished the season tied in points, but Stewart claimed the title because he had more victories.

I’m not sure Hollywood could have created a more exciting scenario.

This is not to say NASCAR did it all. Let’s credit the competitors. If Stewart hadn’t blazed to five victories in the Chase’s 10 races, well, who knows how the championship would have unfolded?

It’s obvious NASCAR does not need to tamper with its championship system. The 2010 season proved that it could work just fine and please fans and competitors alike.

As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Rightfully, NASCAR isn’t going to fix it.

One thing it is trying to fix is the proliferation of two-car, “partner” drafts that have become the norm at Daytona and Talladega.

This is a relatively new phenomenon and it appears NASCAR is responding to the will of those fans, and others, who do not like it.

Understand, not everyone disapproves. I’m one of them. Yes, two cars running alone with one’s nose up the other’s tail looks silly. But I believe it’s helped bring about drama and surprise.

Nevertheless it was NASCAR’s primary goal during testing to find the technological means to prevent these two-car dances.

Testing showed us big-pack racing had returned to Daytona. And, wonder of wonders, NASCAR didn’t hit the panic button when sustained speeds of over 200 mph were reached.

But two-car drafts did not go away. I’d be willing to say that while we might see plenty of pack racing in the Daytona 500 (I thought fans didn’t like that, either), the outcome will be determined by the two cars that hook up best in a “dance.”

Now there’s plenty of time for NASCAR to enforce legislation for things to be otherwise, but my point is: If it doesn’t, so what?

I know many will disagree, but if the Daytona 500 ends with two cars hugging on to each other, I don’t think that is necessarily going to be a bad thing.

Racing on the superspeedways may be “cracked” to some, but I don’t think it’s entirely broken. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

NASCAR announced a couple of other policy changes for 2012, one of which is decidedly positive and the other, well, the sanctioning body needs to tread lightly.

We now know that NASCAR will no longer punish its teams and drivers without making the fines, and other judgments, public.

Smart, very smart.

There was plenty of outcry after the sanctioning body secretly leveled a $25,000 fine against Brad Keselowski for publicly criticizing the switch to fuel injection.

That wasn’t the only time such a thing happened, by the way, and I think the reason NASCAR received the criticism it did is because, over the years, it has been accused of many, many clandestine cloak-and-dagger exploits designed to impose its will and enforce its domination.

Which certainly didn’t contribute to a positive image – nor has fining drivers and teams secretly.

If NASCAR practices what it is now preaching it will benefit. The less it appears to be a secret society, the better off it will be.

We know that NASCAR intends to re-evaluate its “Boys have at it” policy in 2012. It will strengthen its stance against drivers retaliating on the track.

NASCAR loosened its grip on driver behavior in 2010 and allowed them to police themselves and retaliate when they believed they had been wronged.

I think the main reason NASCAR did this was to offset the constant criticism that it had “cloned” its drivers; robbed them of their true personalities and denied the sport the rivalries its fans crave.

So when it comes to any sort of “re-evaluation,” I would urge NASCAR to walk softly.

It stands to reason that it should step in, with force, when things obviously get out of hand – if two drivers wreck each other repeatedly and put others in danger, for example.

But then, I can’t think of a time when it hasn’t done that.

I suspect that by its announcement of a “re-evaluation” NASCAR was actually telling its competitors it will still have the final say, “Boys have at it” notwithstanding.

I think NASCAR will indeed tread softly. It should. Heroes and villains, rivalries and confrontations on and off the track have always been a part of stock car racing’s character and appeal.

When it comes to “Boys have at it,” in my opinion things ain’t broke, so NASCAR shouldn’t fix it. Frankly, I’d be stunned if it attempted to do so.

Make no mistake, there are going to be incidents and other occurrences in 2012 that will be unanticipated and, perhaps, force NASCAR to make sweeping changes. Who knows?

But right now changes are few and largely minor.

That’s because, indeed, NASCAR begins 2012 in a good place.

There might be a crack here and there, but for now, nothing ain’t broken. So don’t fix it.

Can The Busch Brothers Change? Yes, And Here Are Ways How

 

Kurt (left) and Kyle Busch have clearly established their driving talents, but both have volatile personalities that have had negative affects on their careers. It seems obvious they need to make changes, but can they? Certainly it's possible - but up to them.

Kurt and Kyle. Kyle and Kurt.

Independently they have made magic on the track and mayhem in their careers. They are volatile, boorish, immature, outrageous, and devastatingly talented. Their accomplishments on the track, however, have paled considerably to their behaviors off.

Now the elder brother Kurt is trying to rebound from his recent (mutual) dismissal from Penske with a NASCAR Sprint Cup ride with James Finch’s lesser-tier Phoenix Racing, running both Nationwide and Sprint Cup. What else does he do to find work? Hitch his talents to brother Kyle’s Nationwide team to split the season.

Many see this move as incredibly stupid, citing the brothers’ inability to play nice with others, including one another. They say the union will self-destruct and no good will come from the pairing.

I disagree. Family may be exactly what these boys need to repair their images, get back on track and start winning the war of public opinion.

I remember clearly a time when Kurt was the only Busch brother driving in NASCAR. When being interviewed about his talents Kurt smiled slyly and said, “If you think I’m good, wait until you see my brother.”

This foreshadowing showed an older brother’s respect for his younger sibling and a bond that only family produces.

Once Kyle earned a ride in Cup, I distinctly recall him winning in his native Las Vegas in 2009.

It charmed me to see brother Kurt and their mother join Kyle in Victory Lane. Family, so much a part of NASCAR and which is so appealing to me, was strongly present and, obviously, important to the brothers Busch.

I am a staunch believer that all people can change. Kurt and Kyle have worn their snottiness and intolerance as badges – if not the armor they wear into battle.

I hoped that after Kurt lost his ride at Roush and Kyle his at Hendrick, the two would mature a little bit.

And, at first, it seemed they tried. Once Kyle got married to the former Samantha Sarcinella I was certain he’d make a strong run for the championship in 2011. Alas, I was wrong. But I am not closing the door to the idea that both of these men can change for the better.

Dale Earnhardt once told a young Jeff Gordon, “At least they’re making noise. It’s when they stop making noise that you know something’s wrong.”

Kurt and Kyle still garner huge attention, passionate responses from the crowd and are polarizing. But Penske could no longer stomach the elder Busch’s tirades and lack of control. Finch has already said that if Kurt had behaved with him the way he did with Penske, “He would have gotten his ass beat on pit road.”

It was just a matter of time before Joe Gibbs would be forced to let Kyle go if his judgment didn’t improve. I have to believe that such facts will alter the drivers’ behavior.

A new girlfriend for Kurt and a savvy wife for Kyle may be what soothe the savage beasts that reside within the brothers Busch.

I’m hoping that for their sake, and for that of NASCAR fans as well, the Busch brothers can harness their ambition, talent, brattiness and rage and do what they truly do best – win races.

Perhaps a back-to-basics season for the two drivers will refocus and re-energize their efforts. Perhaps Kurt can parlay this season into a Chase contention and Kyle can, finally, make a decent run at the championship.


Homestead Set to Test 2013 Sprint Cup Cars, 24 Hours of Daytona, Rubens Barrichello to Test

Homestead will host a private test for the new 2013 Sprint Cup cars before Daytona. The test is private. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona begins this weekend. Rubens Barrichello will test an IndyCar for KV Racing at Sebring next week. Will he be satisfied with IndyCar after Formula One? Caterham Formula One releases images of it’s new 2012 Formula One car.

JUNIOR SAYS: The 1985 Season Was The Coming Of ‘Awesome Bill’

Junior Johnson

Junior Johnson

Even though Darrell Waltrip did not approve of a two-car team, he and teammate Neil Bonnett combined to produce a good 1984 season for Junior Johnson & Associates.

At the beginning of 1985 there was no reason to make any changes. Budweiser sponsorship was assured for another season and, from all appearances, Waltrip and Bonnett, and their teams, worked together harmoniously.

But for Junior, 1985 got off to a rocky start. Warner Hodgdon, who had been a financial partner and a man who prolifically spread money around NASCAR, was in serious legal trouble. He had to file for bankruptcy.

Junior faced the daunting task of rescuing his team from financial ruin.

Fortunately that was accomplished.

Both Waltrip and Bonnett started the season competitively and shaped themselves into championship contenders.

But it didn’t take long for them, and everyone else, to learn that to win a title meant to stop an unexpectedly strong, relatively new, driver and team – both poised to make NASCAR history.

 

Junior’s contributions to www.motorsportsunplugged.com will appear every other Friday throughout the season.

 

In1984, my two-car experiment worked out pretty well, I thought.

Darrell won seven races but finished fifth in points behind Terry Labonte, who won the championship driving for Billy Hagan.

In his first year with me, Neil didn’t win, but he wound up eighth in points. I thought, overall, we delivered a pretty good one-two punch for the season.

As far as I was concerned the two-car operation was full-speed ahead for the 1985 season. I was determined that performance would be even better.

But I had to attend to not-so-small problem.

Warner Hodgdon, whom I had taken on as a financial partner, was in serious trouble.

He was a real estate developer and he became embroiled in a bid-rigging scheme that, as I recall, was triggered by an unfaithful employee.

Warner faced lawsuits totaling $53 million. He had to dispose of all his NASCAR interests – track and teams included – and file for bankruptcy.

He owed me a considerable amount of money so I had no choice but to file foreclosure papers.

On a bitter, cold day in January 1985, the Wilkes County clerk of court auctioned off Warner’s portion of Junior Johnson & Associates on the courthouse steps. I was the first one there.

I paid about $200,000 to regain full control of my team.

Warner’s intentions were honest. He played a key role in getting me backed by Anheuser-Busch in a two-car operation. And I think he helped the tracks with which he was involved, too. I was sorry for what happened to him.

That issue aside, we were ready for the 1985 season. Darrell and Neil were back on board, of course, and, as usual, there was confidence that we could win yet another title.

I didn’t know it at the time but the 1985 Winston Cup season was going to be one of the most memorable in NASCAR’s history. And my team would play a role in it.

For the second year in a row, popular Neil Bonnett drove for Junior as a teammate to Darrell Waltrip. Bonnett won his first two races for Junior in the first 10 events of the 1985 season, which helped his team get off to a good season start.

To set the stage, during the offseason, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. announced two new projects.

The first was The Winston, called an “all star” race because only race winners could compete. It offered no points but a heckuva lot of money.

The second was The Winston Million. It offered a $1 million prize to any driver who could win three of four selected races – the Daytona 500, the Winston 500, the Coca-Cola World 600 and the Southern 500.

I was intrigued. Darrell? Well, his mouth was watering. He knew we were in The Winston – scheduled for May in Charlotte – and he also felt he had a solid shot at that $1 million.

Let’s put it this way: I sure didn’t have to motivate him. Not at all.

The season started almost perfectly. Darrell was the runnerup in the Busch Clash and a Daytona 125-mile qualifier. He then finished third in the Daytona 500. Yes, we didn’t win, but we were already near the top of the point standings.

But for me, the real thrill came in the Carolina 500 at Rockingham, the third race of the season.

That’s when Neil got his first victory with me in a wild, exciting finish.

Neil was involved in a metal-swapping battle with Harry Gant and on the last lap, Neil made the pass to win by inches.

I thought the world of Harry, but it sure tickled me to see one of my drivers win like that.

It was great racing, a throwback to NASCAR’s early days.

Neil wasn’t through. In April at North Wilkesboro, he won again. And Darrell finished second by a car length.

It was a “double dip” for Junior Johnson & Associates and one of my proudest moments at my home track.

As good as that was, however, and as quick a start as we had, things could have been a lot better.

When the season’s 10th race came around my team had won only twice – with Neil. Despite a couple of solid runnerup finishes, Darrell had yet to win a race.

And he suffered a great disappointment at one of his favorite tracks, Martinsville, when his engine blew and he finished 23rd.

Nothing gripes me more than engine failure. While I know the occasional bad part can cause it, many more times it can be traced to a lack of preparation – and that I never tolerated.

I was going to get to the root of the problem.

But then, we had another problem. And for that matter, so did every other team on the Winston Cup circuit.

The problem? Bill Elliott.

The kid out of Georgia with his one-car, Harry Melling-owned team, was shredding the competition.

By late May he had won seven races, all on superspeedways. He was on course to break David Pearson’s record of 10 big-track wins in a single season.

He was also well on his way to a cool million bucks. He won the Daytona 500 and the Winston 500 at Talladega, which meant if he won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the 10th race of the season, the money was his before the year was half completed.

The only way to stall Elliott was to beat him, of course.

But at that time it didn’t look as if anyone could.

Ganassi Cleans House, Toyota Attacks LeMans with Hybrid, Success for Lotus, Raikkonen Tests


Chip Ganassi has hired and fired personnel over the Winter to get traction for his team. Toyota will race a Lemans LMP1 Prototype that will be equipped with KERS, According to Oriol Servia…Lotus has had success in the past through hard work and innovation. The lotus Indcar keeps testing. Kimi Raikkonen completed a two day test session to re-acclimate him to a Formula One Car.

New Ford Fusion Sprint Cup Car Looks Like a Race Car


The new Ford Fusion Sprint Cup car was unveiled recently to looks of disbelief. Finally a Cup car that looks similar to a street car but still looks like a purposeful racing car. The design of this new class of vehicle for NASCAR should help bring fans back to their seats.

Notoriety Long Established, Evernham Enjoys His New Enterprises

After years as a crew chief and NASCAR team owner, today Ray Evernham is involved in several enterprises. They may not put him in the limelight he once experienced, but he doesn't seem to mind a bit. He enjoys his new ventures.

CONCORD, N.C. – I didn’t expect to see him at all, but there he was: Ray Evernham was in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual Media Tour.

However, it was in a much different capacity than in earlier years. In the past Evernham was a media target as a crew chief or team owner.

This time he was on board simply to help the speedway celebrate the 30th year of the Media Tour’s existence. He provided his share of memories – something also done by others, including many veterans in the media.

Evernham certainly remains a familiar and respected figure in NASCAR circles. But he’s not nearly in the limelight as much as he used to be.

That’s because he’s no longer in the competitive arena, where he could easily be found at work in any garage area. Instead he has several ongoing responsibilities to occupy his time. Most of them let him fly below the radar.

“My biggest customer is Hendrick Performance,” Evernham said. “I do a lot with them in parts and pieces development.”

And what is his job title?

“Global director of …. ” he slowly answered. “Uh, I’ll have to look at my card … What the hell is my title? Let’s see … Oh, yeah, global director of product development. It’s all pretty much Black Ops.”

Perhaps, today, Evernham’s most public profile has been provided by television. For several years he was an analyst for ESPN before he severed the association to work with Hendrick.

“I still stay away from the motorsports side over at Hendrick,” Evernham said. “The less I know about what is going on in motorsports there, the easier it is to keep potential conflict out of it in regards to TV.

“I never want the teams to worry about what I might say on TV after I might have seen what they were working on. The best thing to do is keep that separate.

“Hopefully we’ll announce a new TV package in a little bit,” Evernham added. “I’m going to do some TV stuff again.”

Evernham is naturally comfortable in front of cameras but for many years his numerous appearances had very little to do with analyzing current events.

Instead, he made current events.

Evernham, a former Modified driver, began working for the International Race of Champions at age 26 after a severe injury in a crash at Flemington, N.J., in 1993, ended his racing career.

He did a stint as crew chief with Alan Kulwicki, which did not last long, and then moved on to work for Bill Davis’ Nationwide Series team and its fledgling driver, Jeff Gordon.

Evernham and Gordon found an almost instant rapport.

Evernham then moved with Gordon to Hendrick Motorsports’ Winston Cup team for the final race of the 1992 season and remained through 1999.

The 54-year-old Evernham made – to say the least – his indelible reputation during those seven seasons.

In a short time he helped shape for Gordon what became one of the most incredibly successful Cup careers in NASCAR history.

Gordon and Evernham won 47 races and three championships in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

Gordon, nicknamed “Wonderboy,” and Evernham helped Hendrick Motorsports become one of the most dominant teams in Cup competition at the time.

Incidentally, it remains so.

Evernham made his biggest impact, and gained the most notoriety, in NASCAR as crew chief for a rising star named Jeff Gordon. Together, the two fashioned a remarkable NASCAR record which included, among other things, three championships.

In 2000 Evernham formed his own team with, at first, drivers Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood and which spearheaded Dodge’s return to NASCAR.

Seven competitive yet sometimes tumultuous, controversial years later, Evernham sold the majority share of his team to George N. Gillett Jr.

Various name changes and corporate mutations later, the team emerged as Richard Petty Motorsports and merged with Roush Fenway Racing. Evernham sold his remaining shares in the operation in 2010.

“I think everybody has their turn when everything fits,” Evernham said in reflection. “It’s like there is a gear that comes around and there’s a time when you fit. I was fortunate to fit in at the time I did.

“I don’t think I’d fit in now because to be an owner you have to become more involved in the business end of racing. That’s just not my forte.

“I’m a field man. I’m better with a small group of people. I can do the big business thing but it’s not what I enjoy most.

“I’m think I have been fortunate. In my time I had the right fit. I wouldn’t even attempt it now because it is something that doesn’t fit me.”

Evernham is keenly aware of how circumstances have changed for NASCAR’s team owners today. A struggling economy has made it difficult to keep teams operational, largely because adequate sponsorship is so scarce and thus tough to acquire.

While he does acknowledge the situation, Evernham contends there is evidence things may be changing – if slowly.

“Yes, it’s pretty difficult right now,” he said. “But look at an owner like Tommy Baldwin. He’s a got a relatively small operation but he’s making it work. That indicates to me it’s easier for guys like him to survive.

“We were at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction last week and what goes on there is pure emotion. People are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars – maybe millions – on cars just because they want to.

“So I think that guys like Tommy have a shot because people are starting to free up their money a little bit. And those who are into cars could put some money into NASCAR.

“It’s not going to be $30 million, but it will be $1 million here and another there. It’s enough to keep a team like Tommy’s growing.”

In addition to his tasks with Hendrick and potential television responsibilities, Evernham is involved in a few other projects – all of which he obviously enjoys.

“I still own East Lincoln Speedway (in Stanley, N.C.), but I’m not going to promote it this year,” Evernham said. “We’re going to let other people promote it. I just don’t have the time to be there.”

Evernham has also hooked up with CMS President Marcus Smith to promote the U.S. Legends version of dirt cars.

And he has a car restoration enterprise.

“We have restoration stuff but we don’t do work on race cars, “ said Evernham of his shops in Mooresville, N.C. “Every car we have is an old one. I think the latest one we have is a 2001 model that won the pole for Daytona.

“We have that and our Indy car, the one with which we won at Indy. Everything else is old.”

Perhaps it can be said that Evernham’s accomplishments on the track, as noteworthy as they were, are now old.

But what is new is Evernham’s NASCAR presence today – it’s not only new but different.

And Evernham, whose place in NASCAR lore has long been established, appears to relish it.

NASCAR Hall of Fame, IndyCar Testing, NHRA Testing and F1 Bans Ride Height System

NASCAR inducted new members to it’s Hall of Fame last week. IndyCar ran another testing round at Sebring with good results. NHRA had an open test session for it’s 2012 lineup in Palm Beach, Florida and Formula One bans a Ride Height System that it approved just a week ago.

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