Random News - October 1999

Congratulations Jack
HARRISBURG, N.C. (October 30)- - Jack Sprague won the 1999 Craftsman Truck Series title driving the #24 GMAC Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Sprague, who also won the title in 1997, captured the title in dramatic fashion by winning the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at California Speedway in a two lap shootout over Mike Bliss and Ron Hornaday. His championship margin was eight points over Greg Biffle. Rick Hendrick will be sitting at the head table when his driver accepts the title at the series awards banquet later this year. Hendrick Motorsports has won a NASCAR touring division championship in every season since 1995.

Halloween Tales
RUSSELLTON, PA. (October 29)- - For Halloween, six-year-old Jordan Locke dressed up in a Jeff Gordon NASCAR racing uniform, complete with blue and red matching cap and pants. A rather uncontroversial costume compared to his choice of a year ago. Last Halloween, Jordan's five-inch, plastic, gray ax attached to his firefighter's costume made national headlines. The Deer Lakes School District suspended him from classes for wearing the attached plastic ax. After the story of the then-kindergartener's suspension made headlines across the country, the school invited Jordan's parents and others to participate on a committee to revise the zero-tolerance rules. The ban on weapons still stands, but now, school officials will decide disciplinary action differently. They will determine the consequences of violations on a case-by-case basis. (Post Gazette)

Memorable Introduction
CONWAY, AR. (October 23)- - Arkansas Dwarf Car Association state champ Carl Pruitt became interested in driving after racing against Jeff Gordon. In 1994, Pruitt trained Hendrick Motorsports employees on how to use an alignment machine from John Beam Company. Later that year, team owner Rick Hendrick invited participating vendors to a "Ride and Drive" day at Charlotte Motor Speedway where Pruitt raced in a dwarf car race against Gordon. "I didn't have any interest in (dwarf cars) until I drove one," Pruitt said. Dwarf cars are 5/8ths scale race cars with fully adjustable suspensions like full-sized race cars and a 1100 cc motorcycle engine that can propel the cars to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. (Log Cabin Democrat)

Sick, Sad World
DRAPER, UT. (October 16)- - I was hesitant to report on this kind of story. But, for informational purposes I decided that it warranted interest. Convicted killer Joseph Parsons was executed by lethal injection on Friday in Utah. His final words were, "My love to my family and friends." And then with his voice rising said, "And Woody, the Rainbow Warrior rules!" "Woody" referred to Doug Lovell, Parsons' cellmate on death row. The two often wagered on NASCAR racing events with Parsons favoring Jeff Gordon, as he had a photo of the DuPont Chevrolet in his cell. The family of Richard Earnest, the man Parsons killed 12 years ago, was in attendance and had hoped the convicted killer would express remorse. Sadly, that wasn't the case. (Salt Lake Tribune)

24 For Life
HARRISBURG, N.C. (October 7)- - Jeff Gordon will continue driving the #24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports under a lifetime contract that also gives him part ownership of the team. The new deal takes effect on January 1, 2000 and will continue for the duration of Gordon's career. Rick Hendrick joined Gordon for the announcement on Wednesday. "I wanted my next decision to be my final decision," Gordon said. "I don't want to have to have a contract come up for negotiation again. It's a tedious process and I think it has been a distraction. I want this one to be forever." Under the agreement, Jeff Gordon Inc. will continue to manage the licensing activities of the #24 team and would work in conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports in seeking out and negotiating future sponsor relationships for the team. After his driving career concludes, Gordon will remain active as a business partner in the team.

A New Era
HARRISBURG, N.C. (October 2)- - With the departure of crew chief Ray Evernham, Brian Whitesell has been thrust into the spotlight as the new crew chief for Jeff Gordon. "This is just a fantastic opportunity," Whitesell said. "I'm looking forward to doing the job the best way I know how. Working with Ray has helped me understand the dynamics involved between driver, crew chief and our spotter on race days. Jeff Gordon and I have always communicated very well, also, and that's extremely important. The emphasis on teamwork will remain at the center of all we do and achieve. And I'm just real excited about getting started." After losing the only crew chief he has had in his Winston Cup career, Gordon said, "My first thought is to thank Ray. He has contributed greatly to the success of the 24 team, and I wish him success in his future endeavors. I have tremendous confidence in Brian and I'm looking forward to many more wins and more championships with him and our Rainbow Warriors team."

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