The Next Generation
APOPKA, FLA. (November 22)- - Matt Martin, the seven-year-old son of Winston Cup driver Mark Martin, won a quarter midget championship at a small racetrack in Apopka, Florida on November 19. He won the Junior Novice division in his first full season of racing. "Watching Matt do that has been the highlight of my year," Mark Martin said. "I'm not sure if he wants to be a race car driver when he gets older, but right now it doesn't matter to me. It's just great that he has some fun and gets a chance to experience winning." Back in May, Matt expressed interest in racing after seeing a television show about quarter midgets. His father called Jeff Gordon's stepfather, John Bickford, to ask whether he could help orient Matt to race cars. Bickford dug out and dusted off one of Gordon's old quarter midgets and brought it to a little track near Lowes Motor Speedway near Charlotte, North Carolina where Matt tried driving for the first time. Like Jeff Gordon at Rio Linda twenty years earlier, Matt Martin took to the car almost immediately.
PHOENIX, AZ. (November 8)- - Five members of Jeff Gordon's "Rainbow Warrior" pit crew will be leaving the team to work for Robert Yates Racing and driver Dale Jarrett next season. Jackman Barry Muse, tire changers Kevin Gilman and Mike Trower, and tire carriers Jeff Knight and Darren Jolly will be moving to Jarrett's team. Muse, Trower, Knight, and Jolly were longtime members of Gordon's pit crew. Gilman joined the team this season after Shane Parsnow moved over to work on the #25 Chevrolet. The move will allow other pit crew members within the Hendrick organization to step up to Gordon's team. Chris Anderson has already replaced Muse on the crew. "I'm not disappointed that people make changes, because I made a change," former crew chief Ray Evernham said. "But I am very disappointed in the way that they handled that thing. That should've been handled a lot more honorably than it was. They should have talked to Rick Hendrick and Jeff about it, and let them know that they were looking around." The group, which is flown in on race days just to perform pit stops, had been looking for quite some time. Yates and Jarrett didn't go out and seek the team. The pit crew went to them, and that's what Gordon found upsetting. "You can't expect to keep people forever," Gordon said. "But to not even have the opportunity to talk to them, just to know they picked up and collectively did something like that, that's what I'm kind of upset about. We lost a couple of good guys, but a couple of those other guys, it doesn't really bother me." Gordon didn't rule out having five new crew personnel by the time the series reached the season finale in two weeks at Atlanta. "It's still the best time for this to happen, rather than after the season," he added. "At least, we can try and get some people in place and start preparing for (next season). I like having guys getting ready by working in actual race conditions."
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