Tuesday, February 5, 2013

NASCAR enacts pit road rule change

   Here it is, in black and white:

    9-15 Pit Procedures During Race
The fuel handler must be in control of the fuel can at all times when fuel is being added to the car. The fuel handler will not be permitted to perform any adjustments or other pit stop procedures while the fuel can coupler is engaged with the car-mounted adapter.

    Translation: So long as the gas man is pouring gas into the car, he is prohibited from doing anything else during the pit stop (In past, the gas man has helped make adjustments or stuck wrenchs in wedge-adjustment holes. This role expanded when catch-can position was eliminated).

It's "Midnight" at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

   "Midnight" - one of the most famous cars in NASCAR history - will be featured in Rusty Wallace's exhibit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, beginning Saturday, Feb. 9.

    "Midnight" (PSC-009), the ninth stock car assembled by Penske Racing South, made its debut in the Sept. 12, 1992 ,Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Richmond, Va., with Wallace at its helm. The Missouri native started the event from the third position and dominated the night, leading 231 laps on his way to victory.

    Throughout his storied career, Wallace had a tradition of naming each of his cars that had won a race. Thus, he drove into Richmond's Victory Lane around the midnight hour, his veteran PR representative, Tom Roberts, suggested naming the car "Midnight." It was then that a legend was born.

    Midnight became the workhorse of Wallace's Penske fleet during 1993 and 1994 - seasons that produced 10 and eight wins, respectively.

    "Back then, it was Dale Earnhardt and I racing for the win all the time. I remember every week when we got to the track, he'd come up and ask me, 'What car you got? It's not that darn Midnight is it?' If it was, he knew he had his work cut out for him," Wallace said.

    Starting with its 1992 debut, Midnight amassed a staggering record of 13 wins, 30 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes in 38 starts. The car led over 5,000 laps during that period - as both a Pontiac Grand Prix and a Ford Thunderbird -accounting for nearly one-third of all possible laps in those events. To this day, the car's 13 wins still comprise nearly 20 percent of Penske Racing South's Cup Series win total.

    Midnight's restoration began in mid-2012 and was performed by former Penske Racing fabricator, Chuck Gafrarar, along with other former members of Wallace's Penske team. The car has been fully restored to race-ready condition, as a 1994 Ford Thunderbird featuring the famous black and gold Miller Genuine Draft livery. As part of a complete team effort, Penske Corporation, MillerCoors and Ford Motor Company all participated in the project.

What's left on Rick Hendrick's NASCAR bucket list?

   Throughout his distinquished career as a NASCAR owner, Rick Hendrick has amassed quite a resume: 14 drivers' championships (10 Sprint Cup Series, 1 Nationwide Series, 3 Camping World Truck Series); 257 race wins (209 Cup Series, 23 Nationwide Series, 25 Trucks); and 245 poles (189 Cup Series, 35 Nationwide and 21 Trucks. Reaching the 200-win Cup series plateau in 2012 was one of Hendrick's biggest goals.

    With that out of the way, what's next for Hendrick? Is there any one thing he'd still like to accomplish in an owner in NASCAR? What's left on the bucket list for one of NASCAR's most successful owners? I asked Hendrick during the recent NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

    "What I want to see is the drivers I have here reach their potential. Jimmie (Johnson's) done it. Jeff (Gordon's) done it. I want to see Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) do it. I want to see Kasey (Kahne) do it. I want to see championships come out of the complex. I want to be there every year to try to win it. I know we can't win them all - and nobody will - but to see these guys hit their potential and the company continue to be competitive is what I want," Hendrick said.

    "Other than that, I never thought I'd win one championship, let alone 13 or 14. So, do I have to do anything? It's just the satisfaction of seeing these guys put another mark on the wall. Can we get to 275 wins? Can we get to 15 championships? I don't know.

    "I'd love to see Jeff win No. 5. I'd like to see Jimmie win No. 6. But I'd really like to see Dale win one and I'd like to be a part of Kasey's. It's so cool to be able to say I've been a part of three guys winning championships (Gordon, Johnson and Terry Labonte). It would be so cool to get Dale and Kasey ones, too. That's what drives me."