Reutimann to replace Kurt Busch at Pocono (The Associated Press)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) David Reutimann will replace suspended driver Kurt Busch at Pocono Raceway, but Busch’s future with Phoenix Racing appears murky, at best. Busch was suspended by NASCAR on Monday for verbally abusing a reporter following the Nationwide Series race at Dover. NASCAR said his behavior was in violation of the probation Busch was placed on last month, and he’s not eligible to return to a NASCAR-sanctioned event until June 13. Tommy Baldwin Racing will let Reutimann drive Busch’s No. 51 Chevrolet on Sunday at Pocono. There is no Nationwide Series race this weekend, so Busch was not scheduled to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports, his younger brother’s race team. It’s assumed he’ll be back with both Phoenix and KBM after his suspension is lifted, but Phoenix owner James Finch said Tuesday their partnership will be on a race-by-race basis going forward. ”Here’s the deal: Quit wrecking the cars, get a good finish, be nice to people. That’s not real hard to do,” Finch told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday. ”It’s affecting me. If I can’t get a sponsor, I can’t keep running without a sponsor. That’s a slow death. I don’t want to do that.” Finch said Busch has wrecked 14 cars so far this season, and at least three of them were beyond repair. With limited sponsorship money, and Busch’s behavior interfering with the potential to land funding, Finch said something has to give. ”Hopefully if we can get Kurt’s mind right, we can win some races,” he said. ”If we can’t get his mind right so we can race into the future, then I’ll go do something else. It’s just that simple. I’m doing my part. We’ve wrecked 14 cars this year. Four at Daytona. We’ve killed three or four cars and had to completely throw them away.” Busch’s latest penalty stems from a confrontation with a Sporting News reporter after Saturday’s race. Contact on the track with Justin Allgaier led to a discussion on pit road after the race, and Busch was asked if being on probation impacted the way he raced Allgaier. ”It refrains me from not beating the (expletive) out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions. But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say as well,” Busch replied. The exchange was captured on video. Busch apologized in a statement Monday night for his behavior and said he accepts NASCAR’s decision. ”I put them in a box, they had to take action and it’s my fault for putting them in this position.” It’s just the latest in a series of ugly incidents for Busch, who lost his job with Penske Racing at the end of the season because of his behavior. He had a rage-filled rant on his team radio last year that drew widespread attention, sparred with two reporters in September at Richmond, and then was caught on video by a fan verbally abusing an ESPN reporter during the season finale. The video was posted on YouTube, Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR after it went public, and his split by ”mutual agreement” with Penske came shortly after. He then signed with Finch, and has said driving for the underfunded team would help him ”put the fun back into racing for me.” It’s been trying, though, and Busch has had a handful of bumps in the road. Last month, he was fined $50,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation through July 25 for reckless driving on pit road, and a post-race altercation with Ryan Newman’s crew members. That probation has now been extended through the end of the year. His issues come when Busch is trying to line up a top-level ride for next season. He’s believed to have had discussions with Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing. But the more attention he gets for off-track issues, the harder it is for a team owner to sell Busch to a sponsor.
Popular Earnhardt close to contract extension (AP)
CONCORD, N.C. (AP)Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains as popular as ever in the stands. Car owner Rick Hendrick remains a fan, too. Minutes after a popular vote gave him the last spot in Saturday nights NASCAR All-Star race, Earnhardt acknowledged hes had discussions with Hendrick Motorsports about extending his contract past 2012. Weve been talking on the phone a little bit, seeing what we think, and I am excited to be where I am, Earnhardt said. From my heart, its an amazing organization and just great, great people. Earnhardt has just one victory, in 2008, since teaming with Hendrick. Thats also the only year hes made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in the No. 88 Chevrolet. But a crew chief change following a miserable 21st-place finish in the standings last year has changed Earnhardts fortunes some. While Earnhardts winless streak is at 104 races, hes currently fourth in the Sprint Cup standings. Weve still got a lot of things that wed really like to accomplish on the race track, Earnhardt said. If I get the opportunity to stick around, Im definitely excited about that. Weve just been talking about it, hopefully, I dont think well have any trouble working things out. Earnhardts 10-year exemption into the All-Star field for winning the non-points event in 2000 ended this year. He raced in the preliminary Sprint Showdown, where the top two finishers qualified for the big race, but finished sixth. It didnt matter, as a majority of the record 2.4 million votes gave Earnhardt the final spot in the 21-car field. I know my fans worked pretty hard, and it meant a lot to them, Earnhardt said. I appreciate the help. NOW THATS A BIG TV: Tony Stewart was hoping to avoid watching television while he worked Saturday night. It was hard not to gaze at the debut of what Charlotte Motor Speedway bills as the worlds largest high definition TV. Its massive, Stewart said. At approximately 200 feet wide and 80 feet tall, the 165,000-pound Panasonic TV was installed over the past few months. It rises 110 feet above the track along the backstretch on a 500,000-pound steel frame. The TV is about 30 percent larger than the big screen Cowboys owner Jerry Jones installed at the teams new stadium, which had been the largest HD screen. Jerry Jones has not called, track president Marcus Smith said Saturday. The track tweaked the Cowboys a bit by inviting former Dallas star Ed Too Tall Jones to the topping-out ceremony in March. Kasey Kahne got a look at the screen as he watched the preliminary Sprint Showdown, posting on Twitter that the view was unreal. So cool to watch, he added. BOYS, RACE CLEAN: Bobby Allison, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Monday, was involved in one of sports most famous fights. That doesnt mean hes a fan of NASCARs new policy, Boys, have at it. There have been several on-track incidents this season, the most recent involving Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick that landed both on probation. I never thought it was supposed to be, Boys, have at it, Allison said Saturday. I always thought you should race hard and close, but be fair and clean. Allison, David Pearson, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore and the late Lee Petty will be part of NASCARs second Hall of Fame class. Allison, the 1983 Winston Cup champion, won 84 races including three Daytona 500s. But Allison, his brother, Donnie, and Cale Yarborough are also remembered for famously came to blows following the 1979 Daytona 500, the first race televised live flag-to-flag. Recently the press and even some competitors have said theres a time to get even, Allison said, but I think you should race clean and hard. BURNOUT: Kasey Kahne created plenty of smoke, but didnt hit the wall or catch his car on fireso he was worried. I dont know if I can win this deal, Kahne said. Turned out, viewers liked Kahnes performance well enough to give him the win in Pennzoils unique burnout competition before the All-Star race. Kahnes tire-spinning performance on the frontstretch garnered 38 percent of the vote from fans texting their favorite driver. Joey Logano, who hit the wall before producing an impressive cloud of smoke, and Kyle Busch, who worked his car so hard it caught fire, finished with 31 percent each. Thats what they tell you to do, to come out here and burn it to the ground, Busch said. I took that literal. Kahne received $10,000, which will he will donate to his own foundation, which helps chronically ill and disadvantaged children. Its great to make some kids smile, he said. LUG NUTS: Driver Greg Biffle followed through on his promise when he asked in the drivers meeting if Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvicks probation was in effect for the non-points race. After hearty laughter from crew members and fans, the answer came from NASCAR officials: yes. Country singer Brad Paisley attended the race to unveil a video for his hit single Old Alabama that includes NASCARs Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick. New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Carolina Panthers free agent running back DeAngelo Williams attended the race. Asked by a fan if he was going to remain in Carolina, Williams replied, I hope so, man. Williams teammate, left tackle Jordan Gross, was a judge for the burnout competition.
Velarde: Bonds’ trainer gave me HGH (AP)
Former New York Yankee Randy Velarde testified Wednesday that he purchased human growth hormone from Barry Bonds’ personal trainer throughout the 2002 season, making him the fourth major leaguer to admit drug use during Bonds’ perjury trial. Velarde said the HGH gave him more “endurance and strength” and that personal trainer Greg Anderson would help him inject the…
MLB institutes 7-day DL for concussions (AP)
A seven-day disabled list for concussions wouldn’t have done Aaron Hill much good when the Toronto Blue Jays second baseman missed the final four months of 2008 with the injury. That didn’t stop him from saying the move, and several other guidelines instituted by Major League Baseball on Tuesday, was another positive sign the sport is doing more and more to address concussions.
Caraviello: Misfortune often has its roots in human error (NASCAR.com)
Caraviello: Misfortune often has its roots in human error
Steve Wallace to make Sprint Cup debut at Daytona (PA SportsTicker)
Steve Wallace, son of former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace, will make his Sprint Cup debut in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Vickers back behind the wheel after medical scare (PA SportsTicker)
By MARK LONG AP Sports Writer
Caraviello: Vickers turned time away into a positive (NASCAR.com)
Caraviello: Vickers turned time away into a positive
NFL Power Rankings Week 17 New England is up to OLD Tricks
The NFL Power Rankings Week 17 are in the books finally after the first Tuesday NFL game since 1946. Did they even have TV or IPods back then? The Patriots are locking up advantages everywhere.
Menzer: Santa Menz’s mailbag shows the naughty, nice (NASCAR.com)
Menzer: Santa Menz’s mailbag shows the naughty, nice
Longtime Roush executive Smith retiring (NASCAR.com)
Longtime Roush executive Smith retiring