Random News - September 2002

Letarte Named Car Chief
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 30)- - Steve Letarte was named as Car Chief on the #24 Chevrolet. He replaces Tony Gibson who left to become Steve Park's new crew chief for the 2003 season. Letarte, 23, has been with the DuPont team since 1996, first serving as a Parts Assistant, and later as a Tire Specialist and Mechanic. Letarte also serves as the rear tire carrier during pit stops. The car chief is reponsible for general maintenance of the cars and the supervision of mechanics assigned to the car. "Steve has been here for 50-something wins as a general mechanic," crew chief Robbie Loomis said. "He's been responsible for the springs and setup of the car anyway, so he'll fit right in. He's got a lot of responsibility on him and it's a stressful job too. We're lucky we've got him to step in. He's been here seven or eight years. I always kid him that he's the youngest old guy in the garage area."

Alumni Affair
NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 27)- - Ken Schrader was named as the third quarter nominee for the True Value Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes a driver's charitable contributions and community service efforts. Ricky Craven was the first quarter nominee and Jeff Gordon was the second quarter nominee. Schrader has been actively involved for more than five years in a fund-raising dinner and auction for the Hendrick Marrow Foundation, named for Schrader's friend and former car owner. All three nominees have driven for Hendrick Motorsports at some point in their careers. The fourth quarter nominee will be named at the conclusion of the season with the the winner being announced during the Winston Cup awards ceremony in New York City. Gordon previously won the True Value Man of the Year Award in 1996 and 2001. Schrader and Craven have never won the award.

Karting Intermezzo
BOSTON, MA. (September 13)- - Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson tried out the F1 Boston indoor karting track in Braintree, Massachusetts on Thursday, September 12. Though Gordon and Johnson both turned track record laps, the fast lap of the day was turned by Jay Lupo, a mechanic with Gordon's team. Gordon took to the track in a 13-horsepower kart and turned a fast lap of 30.60 seconds to beat the course record of 30.70 seconds that Robby Gordon set in July. Johnson followed Gordon's lap with a 30.28 second lap. However, Lupo, a former go-kart racer from Cleveland, stole the show with a course record lap of 30.08 seconds. F1 Boston offers would-be racers a chance to race on two very unique indoor road courses for nominal fees, rain or shine. The venue supplies everything such as helmets, suits, fuel, gas and maintenance. F1 Boston is located off Route 128 in Braintree near the South Shore Plaza. To take a lap of your own at F1 Boston call (781) 848-2300 or visit

A Day To Forget
RICHMOND, VA. (September 7)- - Jeff Gordon's day at Richmond International Raceway on Friday, September 6 was one to forget. Besides crashing the special paint scheme Bugs Bunny car in practice, having to bring out a back-up car, and start in the rear of the field on Saturday night, he escaped a close call on pit road on Friday morning. The eight Chevrolet drivers slated to run Looney Tunes paint schemes had a five-lap golf cart race on pit road for the second consecutive year. It nearly turned into a disaster as Gordon lay on the track after falling out of a golf cart with Jimmie Johnson bearing down on him. "I had the pole, and Jimmie got a little jump on me," Gordon said. "I was beating him into Turn 1 and I wasn't about to lift. The next thing I know that thing really hooked up. That seat didn't have nearly as much grip as the tires did. Luckily, Jimmie was beside me and ran my hand over instead of my head, which was a good choice." Johnson realized the right move was essential when he saw Gordon on the track. "My reaction was, 'I'm going to kill my car owner with a golf cart,'" Johnson said. "He got a little loose in Turn 1 down there and his body personally got loose from the seat. I tried to avoid him and miss him and I still ran over the top of his arms. I ran over the hand that writes my checks." Robby Gordon was running behind Johnson and Jeff Gordon when the incident occurred. "I went through turn one and saw Jeff rolling out of his car. I didn't want to him him, so I got on the brakes. Somebody ran into the back of me and I looked up and Jeff Green (the eventual winner) never even lifted. He would have sacrificed Gordon for the win here. I couldn't believe it." Luckily, Jeff Gordon wasn't seriously hurt and was able to practice and qualify the DuPont Chevrolet later in the day. "When I left the trailer (before the golf cart race), Robbie Loomis told me to be careful and not get hurt because I had told him how wild it was last year. I won't tell him about this," Gordon said. Though the golf cart race was taped for TV. "Oh, great," Gordon said. "They got one of my most embarrassing moments on one of the biggest screens in the world."

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