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Racin’ Notes: NASCAR To Ban Multiple Championships?

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 11 2011

Carl Edwards may no longer be doing flips in two NASCAR series. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In Racin’ News today, Jan. 11:

It looks as though there will never be a driver who will win more than one major NASCAR series championship in the same year.

NASCAR.com is reporting that in coming weeks, NASCAR officials will institute a rule which allows drivers in its top three series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks – to accumulate championship points in just one series.

NASCAR officials have refused to comment on the report and have said only that questions about the potential change will be made at a competition update meeting on Jan. 21.

The competition update will be part of Preseason Thunder in Daytona.

According to the website’s report, on NASCAR driver license application forms, there are boxes to check which indicate which series the driver plans to compete in.

It is expected drivers will still be able to race for victories in any and all series they choose, but will not be awarded points.

Regan Smith’s No. 78 over-the-wall pit crew for Furniture Row Racing will be employed and trained by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

“We are excited to partner with SHR as it relates to the pit crew,” said Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing general manager. “After reviewing SHR’s program, personnel and facility we are confident that SHR will deliver a crew that meets all of our objectives.”

The No. 78 pit crew will be under the supervision of SHR pit crew coach Joe Piette, who also oversees the pit crews for Tony Stewart’s No. 14 team and Ryan Newman’s No. 39 team. The SHR team is based in Kannapolis, N.C.

“We are very excited about our new partnership with Furniture Row Racing and having the opportunity to help contribute to the growth of their program, while also giving our pit crew the chance to compete and improve on a weekly basis,” said Bobby Hutchens, director of competition, Stewart-Haas Racing.

The first race for the new Furniture Row Racing pit crew will be the invitational Budweiser Shootout, Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway. Smith qualified for the non-points race on the basis of being a former NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year (2008). The first Sprint Cup points race is the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

The Denver-based, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team is coming off its best season since the franchise entered the Sprint Cup competition in 2005. Last year, Smith qualified in all 36 races and came on strong during the second half of the season, scoring a number of top-20 finishes, including three top 13s in the final seven races. He also qualified in the top 10 in the last three Cup races of the 2010 campaign.

Victor Carbone, who dominated the 2010 F2000 Championship Series en route to six wins and the overall title, will make the leap to the Firestone Indy Lights for 2011 with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Following his title-winning season, Carbone tested both Indy Lights and Star Mazda cars, and the Brazilian wasted no time in inking a deal with last year’s championship winning team for a 2011 campaign.

“I am really excited for 2011, as I will have a great opportunity driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports,” Carbone commented. “They have just won the championship so I will be working with the best people. I am aware this is a big step and things are different from the F2000 world.

“Even though there are many differences I feel the two years I spent in F2000 gave me the necessary foundation to make this move. I am making the leap to Indy Lights, because I tested both the Lights car and the Star Mazda car, and I feel I am ready to take this challenge and succeed.”

Carbone will join 2008 F2000 Champion Anders Krohn, from Norway, in the Indy Lights field, underscoring the feeder ability of F2000 Championship Series. Between Krohn and Carbone is 2009 champion Chris Miller, an American, who tested an ALMS Challenge car in November following his rookie Star Mazda season.

Auto Club Speedway officials announced that next year’s Sprint Cup Series race at the track will be reduced from 500 to 400 laps.

First reaction came from Rodney Childers, crew chief for David Reutimann of Michael Waltrip Racing.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Childers said. “If you watch some of the races out there they can get pretty long and drawn out just like Michigan. California is a place where you have engine failures and things like that because we run a really high RPM on the long straight-aways. Shortening this race will kind of even things out engine wise as it compares to everywhere else that we race. I think it’s a good thing for everyone. Now we have to go a little bit harder, earlier, and that should make for a better show for the fans and that’s what matters the most.”

Michael Waltrip Racing owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman are teaming up again to race in the sixth-annual Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome on Friday.

The event marks the first international motor race of 2011.

The two-time Daytona 500 champion and Kauffman will drive one of 90 entrants in the race that features nearly every sports car manufacturer.

“I love racing cars,” said Waltrip. “We had a blast racing there last year and wanted to do it again. I couldn’t believe the number of people that came up to me in Dubai and wanted to talk about NASCAR racing or ask a question about our team. I came back and told everyone at MWR that fans are paying attention to what we are doing on the other side of the world.”

Waltrip and Kauffman will join co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin behind the wheel of the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team. Waltrip and Kauffman raced this car in Dubai last year and in Belgium where they scored an impressive third-place finish on the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit.

The 3.5-mile track at the Dubai Autodrome is one of the most modern in the world; it is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners.

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Bobby Labonte and David Reutimann joined Waltrip and Kauffman at a Dec. 18-21 test session in Portugal where the AF Corse team prepared for Dubai.

Waltrip and Kauffman own MWR which fields NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries for Waltrip, Martin Truex Jr. and Reutimann.

A change to the format for this year’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will add a new twist for drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model divisions.

The postseason event, set for Jan. 28-29 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.), will feature heat races for both divisions to determine the starting lineup for the each feature race.

Both the Late Models and Super Late Models will have two-lap qualifying runs for each car to lock in the first 15 spots. All cars will then participate in two heat races per division – the Super Late Models on Friday and Late Models on Saturday – to determine the remaining qualifiers and set the starting lineup. Cars will start the features based on their heat race finishes, similar to the Daytona 500 qualifying.

The even attracts the top short-track racers in the country and a good smattering of top NASCAR drivers. Joey Logano won a year ago.

Two-time winner of the Daytona 500, TV personality, and now a highly successful NASCAR car owner, Michael Waltrip has been tapped to take on the role of event Grand Marshal for the eighth running of NASCAR’s Toyota All-Star Showdown. Set for Friday, January 28 and Saturday, January 29, the annual champion’s event takes place at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California.

“We really couldn’t be more pleased that Michael accepted our invitation to be honored at this year’s All-Star Showdown,” said Speedway VP/GM Bob DeFazio. “He’s a real fan favorite, just a great guy. I think that everyone looking forward having him here at this event. His big brother, Darrell, was our first Showdown Grand Marshal eight years ago, the Waltrips are all very welcome here.”

Friday’s schedule includes qualifying for the Super Late Models at 2:30 p.m., with qualifying for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series to follow at 3:30 p.m. Heat races for the Super Late Models will follow, with qualifying for the Late Models is set for 5:45 p.m. The 75-lap Super Late Model race is slated to roll off at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, with the green flag for the 50-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series Open set for 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s schedule features a special Fan Walk from 12:05 to 3 p.m. This event will provide fans an opportunity to meet drivers and get an up-close look at the cars and equipment.

Competition gets under way on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., with heat races for the Late Models. The 50-lap race for the Late Model division is set to go green at 7:15 p.m. The green flag for the prestigious 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series all-star race set to wave at 8:30 p.m.

All three races will air live as part of the two-day SPEED broadcast, which begins at 10 p.m. ET.

(This note package will be updated as news develops today)

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 11 2011
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • john says:

    Why not? They do it in Europe–they have a separate championship for “Independant” teams, vs the Factory Works teams. An Independant in BTCC, for example, RARELY wins a race, but in an underfunded team and an underperforming car, he gets a chance to race for a title.

  • SB says:

    So, Nascar’s ’solution’ to the Cup drivers dominating the Nationwide series to not let them go for the championship? Great. That means they can still run all the races, win most of them, collect what little purse money is awarded, and the ‘champ’ will be the first Nationwide driver after that. How thrilled do you think they will be to finish in 4th place and sin a ‘title’? Doesn’t seem like much of a solution.

  • john says:

    Personally, I think it would’ve been better to just limit the number of races they could participate in.

    Still, bravo NASCAR, you FINALLY fixed one of your biggest problems. Time to see developmental drivers get the DEVELOPMENT they deserve!