The Frontstretch Newsletter: December 21st, 2009

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Dec 21, 2009, 11:41:51 AM12/21/09
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THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
December 21st, 2009
Volume III, Edition CCXXXV

Editor's Note: Wondering where the Newsletter was these last couple of days? Don't forget, it's the offseason now ... so we've scaled down to once a week, with editions coming out sometime on Mondays. The next edition of the Newsletter will head your way on Monday, December 28th.

A Holiday Letter From The Staff

Note: This letter also appears on the front page of the Frontstretch website.

Dear Readers,

During this holiday season, it's time to reflect and give thanks, especially during this time of economic hardship for so many. We know it has been a difficult year, one where stock car racing has often taken a back seat to other, more pressing personal issues. Add in one of the rougher seasons competition-wise that we can remember (ratings, attendance, and passing all down significantly) and we understand there are plenty who'd like to cross this year off and just head straight towards a fresh start in 2010.

But during such a rough time, a funny thing happened over in Frontstretch-land ... our numbers and patronage continued to grow. And that's what we're most thankful for -- your support when you've got 20,000 other things to think about these days. We're happy you think of us as a place where you can come to get the latest news, information, interviews, and debate about your favorite sport while enjoying yourself along the way. Thanks for making us smile back with all the compliments and support this season.

While we thank you for your patronage, we also look forward to 2010 and a year of change for the Frontstretch. If you like our coverage now, let's just put it this way: you ain't seen nothin' yet! A new web design is tops on the agenda, as well as several new columns and ideas from some of your favorite writers. But since the offseason is going to be filled with such dramatic changes, to make them we need to suspend new content on the website between now and January 11th, 2010. Please come back then, as we look forward to turning this website into a bigger and better experience for you.

So 'till then, have a happy, healthy Holiday Season, and feel free to take this breather with us to celebrate what's really important. For after all, as passionate as we are about our sport, no stock car can replace the love of friends and family.

See you in 2010!

Sincerely,

The Frontstretch Staff

Today's Top News
by Tom Bowles and Phil Allaway

First Nationwide Series Start Announced For Patrick's Stock Car Endeavor
 
In a press conference aired live on SPEED Friday, JR Motorsports announced that Danica Patrick will make her Nationwide Series debut at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on February 20th, 2010.  For now, this ended discussion that Patrick would race in the season-opener at Daytona.
 
After the 300-miler in Fontana, Patrick will run the next weekend in Las Vegas, with the rest of the schedule to be announced at a later date.  At the moment, what we know is she will drive in 13 stock car races in 2010, including the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, the season opener at Daytona for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards on February 6th.  Any Danica stock car weekend will not conflict with the Izod IndyCar Series schedule, with the vast majority of her NASCAR races before the series schedule begins or after it ends in October.
 
No NASCAR weekend at the Milwaukee Mile in 2010
 
On Wednesday afternoon, officials from the Wisconsin State Fair Park announced that there will be no national races at the Milwaukee Mile in 2010, due to the inability to find a new promoter for the track.  Previously, both NASCAR and the IRL had announced race dates for the one mile oval.  Those dates are now scrapped.
 
The previous promoter at the track, Wisconsin Motorsports, went bankrupt and dissolved earlier this year, precipitating this crisis.  In addition, before liquidating, Wisconsin Motorsports owed NASCAR and the IRL over $2.5 million in sanctioning fees.  Any promoter that came in would have had to pay back those debts before being able to hold another race on the oval.
 
In attempting to find a replacement, four potential promoters were screened by the Wisconsin State Fair Board.  Those groups were Historic Mile LLC; a group led by Dominic and Frank Giuffre, who promoted the track from 1983-1991; a group led by Minnesota-based Scott Quick; and an unnamed group that NASCAR recommended.  Of those four groups, three couldn't reach deals with NASCAR to secure the race weekend for 2010, while the fourth group met with Wisconsin State Fair officials, but chose not to pursue the relationship any further.
 
As expected, track supporters were devastated their last-ditch efforts fell short.
 
"I'm sorry for this," Susan Crane, Chairwoman of the Wisconsin State Fair Board said on Wednesday.  "We tried to do everything we could to secure racing.  But, we're not giving up."
 
Although big time racing is gone from Milwaukee in 2010, the potential for it to return in 2011 is still there provided that a promoter is found.  In the meantime, the track will have to make do with some potential smaller, regional races.  In addition, the facility will be made available to car clubs, driving schools, and testing.  Since the track will not host a NASCAR event in 2010, it will be an eligible venue for teams out of NASCAR's top 3 touring series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series) to test at.
 
NASCAR has yet to announce what is going to happen to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series dates that were assigned to the Milwaukee Mile.  The sport can choose to not replace those races on the schedule - dropping those series to 34 and 24 events, respectively - or they can move the dates to other tracks.  According to NASCAR's Managing Director for Corporate Communications, Ramsey Poston, "...we have been working on alternate opportunities on the 2010 schedule for both series, and will announce those soon."
 
Marc Davis To Run Nationwide Daytona, Limited Truck Schedule In 2010

Frontstretch.com has learned Marc Davis will return to the Nationwide Series, attempting Daytona in his self-owned No. 36 this February before shifting his focus back to the Camping World Truck Series.

"We'll run Nationwide Daytona for sure, then we'll run Atlanta in Trucks," says father, Harry, who says the team has money for a limited number of Truck races but won't set a firm schedule of dates. "When the money comes in, we'll race."

The Davises did acquire a Cup car, as well, but the money needed for a motor package caused the team to postpone its debut in that series indefinitely. The 19-year-old former development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing ran four Nationwide and two Truck races with his own team last season, posting a best finish of 18th at Martinsville (Trucks, October).

Tire test held at Auto Club Speedway
 
With 2010 preparations already underway, Auto Club Speedway played host to a two-day tire test on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.  This test was "super secret," meaning that it was closed to all spectators and all media, as the sport prepares for the first intermediate track race of the year in February.
 
As usual, each of the four manufacturers were allowed at the test.  Dodge was represented by Penske Championship Racing's No. 12 team and driver Brad Keselowski; Toyota brought the No. 20 team from Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Joey Logano; Chevrolet took the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team and driver Jeff Burton; and Ford rounded out the test with the No. 9 team and driver Kasey Kahne.

As is the norm for tire tests, no speeds were reported.
 
ARCA Holds Three Day Test At Daytona International Speedway
 
This past weekend, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards held an open test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on February 6th.  63 drivers from a number of different backgrounds were on site to partake in single car and drafting runs.
 
Undoubtedly, the driver getting the most publicity at Daytona was the aforementioned Danica Patrick, driving a GoDaddy.com-sponsored No. 88 Chevrolet Impala for JR Motorsports -- but she wasn't the only woman at the track in racing overalls.  A total of ten women took to the track this weekend, the highest number for one test session in NASCAR history.  Fellow IndyCar convert Milka Duno was the most "famous" of the rest, testing the No. 90 Toyota for Braun Racing as she contemplates a possible move to stock cars.  Leilani Munter was testing the No. 59 Dodge for Mark Gibson, while Derrike Cope's twin nieces Amber and Angela were both shaking down cars (No. 73 primary and backup) for Rick Markle Racing.
 
Meanwhile, Jennifer Jo Cobb tested the No. 21 Ford for longtime ARCA campaigner Bowsher Racing, and the trio of Jill George, Michelle Theriault, and Ashley Parlett all tested Fords for Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track Racing team.  Finally, Alli Owens tested the No. 15 for Venturini Motorsports.
 
In addition, former Formula 1 racer Narain Karthikeyan and Chinese racer Darryl O'Young tested with a new race team, Starbeast Motorsports.  The team has a technical alliance with JTG Daugherty Racing.
 
The Venturini Motorsports team dominated the speed charts for most of the weekend, often monopolizing the top three spots on the speed chart with their drivers (No. 15 Alli Owens, No. 25 Mikey Kile, and No. 55 Steve Arpin).  Kile turned the fastest lap of testing during the Saturday drafting session at 49.164 seconds (183.061 mph).  In single car runs, all three Venturini cars were at or near the top of the list.
 
CJM Racing Suspends Operations
 
On Friday, CJM Racing owners Bryan and Tony Mullet announced in a press release that the race team will suspend operations immediately due to lack of sponsorship after four years of competition in NASCAR.

"It is really hard for us to see this great group of people move in other directions," the owner said in a statement about the group they hired to run the No. 11 Toyota. "They have done so much to build this program and beyond that, it has become like a family. We have built many great relationships within the industry and we want to thank everyone for showing us support. We are thankful for the time we have had to enjoy this great sport and are focused intently on what the future will bring."
 
The CJM team was one of the strongest teams in the Nationwide Series in 2009, starting off the season with full sponsorship from America's Incredible Pizza Company (AIPC).  However, an unexplainable decision to drop rookie driver Scott Lagasse, Jr. after Iowa in August also resulted in the team losing their primary sponsor (AIPC went with Lagasse).  From that point on, the team had a revolving door of sponsors, although Ridemakerz, a brand of RC cars, was on the car for most of the rest of the season.
 
The team recorded four top 10s with Lagasse behind the wheel in the first 21 races.  But after Lagasse's release, three drivers combined for five top 5 finishes in the final 14 races (three with Mike Bliss (including two second place finishes)), and one for Denny Hamlin and Andrew Ranger).

Word from a source inside the garage area claims CJM did not want to lose its high-end status within the series, and was looking for a minimum of $6 million dollars in sponsorship in order to remain competitive.
 
K-Automotive Racing to move to North Carolina, announces new Crew Chief
 
K-Automotive Racing announced on Friday in a press release that they have formed a partnership with Dave Fuge Jr. and his new company, Victory Lane Consulting.  As a result of the new partnership, the team will be moving from Michigan to Statesville, North Carolina for the upcoming 2010 Nationwide Series season.  Fuge will serve as the crew chief on the No. 26 Dodge.
 
Currently, the plans call for the team to run the full Nationwide season with an as of yet unnamed driver (although Brian Keselowski may reassume the seat).  There are also some plans to run a selected number of Sprint Cup races in 2010, but those plans are still up in the air -- although sources claim the team has purchased several Cup CoTs.

Have news for Phil and the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at ashl...@mail.com with a promising lead or tip.

Think you have what it takes to write for the Frontstretch?
Are you looking for a fast-growing website that can give you an opportunity to not only share your thoughts on racing, but have FUN doing it with a group of laid-back, dedicated personnel?  Well, we have the place for you. Frontstretch is actively seeking 4-6 additional writers for both our newsletter and website to add to our dedicated staff in 2010. Follow this link for more information on how you can become a weekly columnist for the site and/or newsletter!

THIS PAST WEEK ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:

2009: The Year That Wuz, Part I
by Matt McLaughlin

2009: The Year That Wuz, Part II
by Matt McLaughlin

Talking NASCAR TV: ESPN's Knockout Punch Gives Reid His Chance
by Phil Allaway

Mirror Driving: Addington's "Second" Chance, Kentucky Kills Atlanta?, And 2009's NASCAR's Finest Moment

by the Frontstretch Staff

DRIVER REVIEWS:

2009 Season Review: Joey Logano
by Mike Neff

2009 Season Review: Jamie McMurray
by John Potts

2009 Season Review: Casey Mears
by Amy Henderson

2009 Season Review: Paul Menard
by Mike Ravesi

2009 Season Review: Joe Nemechek
by Matt McLaughlin

2009 Season Review: Max Papis
by Tom Bowles

2009 Season Review: David Ragan
by Doug Turnbull

2009 Season Review: David Reutimann
by Mike Lovecchio

2009 Season Review: Elliott Sadler
by Kim DeHaven

2009 Season Review: Regan Smith
by Mike Lovecchio

2009 Season Review: Reed Sorenson
by Phil Allaway

2009 Season Review: Scott Speed
by Vito Pugliese

2009 Season Review: David Stremme
by Beth Lunkenheimer

2009 Season Review: Martin Truex, Jr.
by Tom Bowles

2009 Season Review: Michael Waltrip
by Tommy Thompson

FRONTSTRETCH TRIVIA:
Q:
  Once again, continuing with the obscure tracks once visited by the trucks, during the inaugural season of the now-Camping World Truck Series the trucks ventured out to Saugus Speedway in Santa Clarita, California for the Scott Irvan Chevrolet/Craftsman 200.  Of note here, this was the series' only appearance at the track since it stopped holding races after 1995.  What is notable about Saugus Speedway, besides the fact that it hosted only one truck race?
 
Check back next Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
 
Last Monday's Answer:
Q.
  Continuing our former Truck Series venue questions, and also touching upon the aforementioned Carrolls once again... before Kentucky Speedway was built, the Carrolls owned Louisville Motor Speedway, a 7/16ths of a mile track just south of the city of Louisville, Kentucky (It was shuttered shortly after Kentucky Speedway opened near Sparta, roughly 60 miles away).  What was unique about this short track?
 
A.  The length of the track by itself (7/16 of a mile (.437 miles)) is unique, but we're looking for more.  The track was shaped similar to a gumdrop as a result of the track being expanded at one point.  Originally, Louisville Motor Speedway was a 3/8ths mile oval until management expanded it by creating an outer loop.  The 3/8 mile track was still in use after the renovation was finished, and even served as pit road during the Truck races there from 1995-2000.
 
Frontstretch Trivia Guarantee: If we mess up, you get the shirt off our backs!  If we've provided an incorrect answer to the Frontstretch Trivia question, be the first to email the corrected trivia answer to tri...@frontstretch.com and we'll send you a Frontstretch T-Shirt ... FREE!
 
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Coming Monday, December 28th in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Phil Allaway and more!

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