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Racin’ News: Burton Points Finger At Pocono

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, August 6 2010

Jeff Burton, right, talks with teammate Clint Bowyer at a recent race. This morning at Watkins Glen, Burton took a big swing at safety at Pocono. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

In racin’ news today:

Apparently Jeff Burton is not going to let the threat of secret fines keep him from speaking his mind.

On Friday morning, Burton was asked about safety at Pocono Raceway in the wake of the horrific crash there last weekend involving Elliott Sadler. Burton was asked if he thought that some safety problems at tracks had fallen through the cracks.

Burton’s answer was direct and scathing.

“I told several people four or five years ago that race track had to be fixed,” Burton said. “I had a conversation with the race track and every time they had the conversation it was, ‘This is the first time anybody has every brought it to us.’ I heard that on many occasions.

“The new group there is very committed to changing the race track and to making it better to try to make it safer. My calls to improving the back straightaway at Pocono fell on deaf ears, it’s just that simple. The race track has to change it and all I could do is bring it to their attention. I brought it to their attention on numerous occasions and nothing happened.

“So I had some people that didn’t like me talking about it and I talked about it to the media one time years ago and some people didn’t like that. Nothing fell through the crack as far as I was concerned other than the race track delaying fixing it.”

Sadler’s car was rear-ended into the grass infield and slammed head-on into a thick metal guard rail which was backed by a earthen berm. The impact tore the car apart. Safety equipment in the car likely saved Sadler’s life.

Pocono officials said afterward they would fix the problems with unprotected walls.

Chase’s kind of town? Speedtv.com’s Tom Jensen is reporting that changes to the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule will include making the race at Chicagoland Speedway the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Chicagoland officials have announced that they will hold a press conference at the facility on Monday but did not disclose its purpose.

Chicagoland has been hosting a Cup race in July.

The 10-race Chase has opened its run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway since the playoff debuted in 2004.

On Thursday, it as announced that Atlanta Motor Speedway was giving up the first of its two yearly races to Kentucky Speedway.

Other changes to the schedule expected in coming days include confirmation that Kansas Speedway will get a second yearly date with the donor track being California Speedway.

A.J. initials new pact: Richard Petty Motorsports announced Friday that driver A.J. Allmendinger has signed a multiyear contract extension with the organization. Allmendinger will remain behind the wheel of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I am really excited about my future here with Richard Petty Motorsports,” said Allmendinger. “It’s been such an honor to be behind the wheel of The King’s No. 43 car. I am happy to be able to continue to be his driver and feel for the first time in my NASCAR career I have the chance to build on something. Everyone at RPM and Ford Racing has worked hard to be successful this year and I know we’re right on the verge of big things.”

“We are very pleased to have AJ as a part of the RPM family,” said team owner Richard Petty. “He has proven without a doubt that he is a very talented racer. His passion for the sport is second to none and his desire to be at the top is clear each and every week. I believe in him and what he can do and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports is thrilled to be able to continue the relationship.”

The 28-year-old, California native is in his fourth full season in the sport’s top level of racing. Allmendinger, who joined RPM for the final five races of the 2008 season, is in the midst of his most successful season to date. In 21 races this season, he has collected his first career pole award, three top-10 and 10 top-15 finishes.

Roush to roads: Roush Yates, one of racing’s premier designers and constructors of high-performance engines, announced Friday that it is joining the American Le Mans Series as an engine supplier in LMP2 starting in 2011. Its initial offering is the Ford V6 EcoBoost Turbo for installation in a variety of prototype chassis.

Already, renowned chassis constructor Lola has announced that will offer the Roush-prepared EcoBoost as a standard installation in its open-top and coupe prototypes.

“This is a significant and obviously very positive development for us,” said Scott Atherton, Series President and CEO. “And it is another example of a manufacturer that shares our view of racing`s relationship to the showroom – using a high-performance environment such as the American Le Mans Series to develop relevant, innovative technology that can be transferred to production cars.”

“Everyone at Roush Yates Engines is excited to partner with such a prominent car constructor of LMP sports cars” said John Maddox, Sports Car Program Manager for Roush Yates Engines. “We are proud to build exceptional engines to pair with Lola`s LMP2 design as we enter this innovative championship. Roush Yates Engines plans to use this opportunity to continue improving our technology and efficiency as we strive towards our goal of becoming world-class engine builders.”

(The story will be updated as news develops today)

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, August 6 2010
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • ANM says:

    Jim has always had a genuine concern about safety issues. No matter how controversial they were at the time.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    Really enjoyed your Sporting News article about Brian France’s involvement in advancing safety in NASCAR – just the kind of thing fans would never know without a reporter disclosing. I am especially impressed that you wrote the article since I recognize how unpopular it is to write anything positive about what NASCAR does, much less Brian France. From time to time I disagree with your views so I must give you an attaboy when you demonstrate that journalism is still alive. Thank you.