Merchant Of Venice
GULF STREAM, FLA. (November 21)- - Jeff and Brooke Gordon were finally able to take their long-awaited trip to Italy. The vacation was originally scheduled for earlier in the year. However a tire test at Dover Downs International Speedway in Delaware forced it to be rescheduled for the off-season. They flew to Miami following the season-ending NAPA 500 to board the overseas flight.
Jerry Wins In Atlanta
HAMPTON, GA. (November 20)- - When Rick Hendrick selected Jerry Nadeau to take over the #25 car for the 2000 Winston Cup season, most shook their heads in amazement. Nadeau had torn up more than a few cars during his initial seasons in Winston Cup. However, Hendrick saw "a young Jeff Gordon" in Nadeau. Hendrick felt Nadeau had the talent to win, but needed the opportunity to do so. In the season-ending NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Nadeau won his first career race in dramatic style- by holding off Dale Earnhardt in the closing stages. The MH2.com Chevrolet led the most laps and was the class of the field for most of the day but it took a late charge past Mike Skinner and Ward Burton to propel Nadeau into the lead. After a late caution flag bunched the field, Nadeau held off Earnhardt to claim the win. Besides it being Nadeau's first win, it was also the first win for the #25 Hendrick Motorsports entry since Ken Schrader's victory at Dover in 1991. With the victory, he made the biggest jump in the standings, moving up to 20th and earning the last invitation to the awards banquet in New York on December 8.
Honoring A Legend
HAMPTON, GA. (November 19)- - A ceremony in the media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday honored Darrell Waltrip who will retire following the NAPA 500. Waltrip amassed 84 victories and three Winston Cup titles in his career. All six active Winston Cup champions and one special guest presented Waltrip with various gifts. Jeff Gordon gave him a steering wheel and an autographed picture of when the two shared the Winston Cup Illustrated Person of the Year award in 1998. Gordon also apologized again for an incident at Dover in 1994 where Gordon was running off the pace and hit Waltrip who was running fourth at the time. Rusty Wallace presented DW with a framed picture of the infamous encounter at The Winston in 1989 where Wallace spun Waltrip to claim the victory. Dale Earnhardt gave DW a rocking chair as Waltrip mused that the last seat Earnhardt gave him was a lot better. DW drove the #1 Pennzoil car to a number of strong finishes while Steve Park was injured in 1998. Waltrip received a special edition box of Corn Flakes from Terry Labonte commemorating his three Winston Cup titles and thanked Labonte for not bringing up the Bristol spin last year. Bill Elliott gave him a plaque with the broken shifter from his car in the final race of the 1985 season in which Waltrip beat Elliott for the title. Waltrip received a crystal cross from Dale Jarrett in recognition of his faith and his efforts to bring MRO into the garage area. Perhaps the most touching moment came when DW's younger brother, Michael, presented his brother with a framed picture of their hug in victory lane after Michael won The Winston in 1996. Michael thanked his older brother for helping his career and finally paid back the $200 he had borrowed from him in 1986 when had didn't have enough money to fly back home from a race in California. As great as the gifts were, the stories were more memorable. Thanks for the memories DW.
Empty Seats Increasing
HAMPTON, GA. (November 17)- - For the third consecutive season, the final race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is meaningless in terms of the Winston Cup title. In addition, both of Atlanta's races are held in cold weather seasons and ticket prices are at an all-time high. As a result, ticket sales have been sluggish at the 124,000 seat facility. As was the case in the spring race at Atlanta, empty seats will be noticeable when viewers tune in on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR has prided itself on being the fastest growing spectator sport in the country. However, an increasing amount of empty seats at tracks in the "heart" of NASCAR (Atlanta, Charlotte, Rockingham, and Darlington) raise many questions. Whether NASCAR's growth will continue with the new TV package is unclear. But a lot of people in Daytona Beach are banking on NBC and FOX to produce a rapid growth cycle for the sport. The question remains whether or not that rapid growth cycle has already occurred.
Labonte Wins The Winston Cup
HOMESTEAD, FLA. (November 13)- - Bobby Labonte capped off the most consistent season of his career by clinching the Winston Cup title with a fourth place effort in the Pennzoil 400. Labonte scored wins at Rockingham, Indianapolis, Darlington, and Charlotte en route to his first career title. It was also the first Winston Cup title for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bobby and Terry Labonte became the first brothers to win the title as Terry captured the prize in 1984 and 1996. Congratulations to Bobby, Jimmy, Joe, Mark, Peter, and the entire Interstate Batteries team.
Expansion At HMS
HARRISBURG, N.C. (October 28)- - Hendrick Motorsports announced Phase 1 development plans for three building pads, one of which will be a two-story, 85,000 square foot building that will house the teams of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. The building will also accommodate business operations of JG Motorsports and include viewing areas for visiting race fans. In commemoration of the late Harry Hyde's contribution to Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick has selected the name "Hyde's Way" for the private road serving the new development. Hyde was the first crew chief for All Star Racing (which later became Hendrick Motorsports) and helped the organization get off the ground. Hyde also crew chiefed Tim Richmond to seven victories and eight pole positions in 1986. The 15-acre building site, which includes a 7-acre pond, is adjacent to the existing Hendrick Motorsports complex in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. June 2001 is the anticipated date for completion.
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