The Times Leader from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on May 26, 2006 · 20
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The Times Leader from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania · 20

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Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Friday, May 26, 2006
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20
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PAGE 6B FRIDAY. MAY 26. 2006 N A S C A R TIMES LEADER wvirw.tiniesleader.com nfl "To be able to hang on to something at a particular racetrack for the length of time we have is pretty special." " - . limmie . Inhncnn nn his winnina streak at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Johnson has won four straight point races at the track. O 2006 Chaclone ObWfver Distributed by Knighl RidderTnbune 7t: ri n r- "1 n i si. , w i J I J A I n5 1 j 1'. Ranking the mpst influential people in NASCAR racing V5 Arguably the most popular driver in the Nextel Cup series, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranks seventh on the 2006 power list. AUTOSTOCK By David Poole Knight Ridder Newspapers n ranking the most powerful people in NASCAR, the sport, it's almost too obvious to start with the people who run NASCAR, the company. For three generations, that has been the France family. They control NASCAR and its sister company, International Speedway Corporation, and thusly four members of that family are included in the top four positions on That's Racin's annual list of the sport's most powerful. Joining them in this year's top five are a pair of executives from Fox Sports and two generations from another family with great influence in stock-car racing. In past years, there have been 25 positions on our list. But as the sport has grown, it has also become more complex. Therefore, this year we're expanding our list to a number that makes more sense for NASCAR 43, the number of cars that make up the starting field for a Nextel Cup race. You'll find the top lOTiere. For the remainder of this year's list, visit , www.thatsracin.com. pi m m'n- ' ... c pit- vestas -3 ITTIT I 1 Brian France (NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer and International Speedway Corporation chairman): NASCAR's success makes him not only the easy choice to'top this list, but puts him among the most powerful men on the American sports scene. Has no fear of making changes, even big ones. Q Bill France Jr. (vice chairman of A NASCAR's board of directors): Even though health issues limit his day-to-day contributions, he still plays an important role when the major decisions are being made. t .r; J. France Jr. 3 David HOI (Fox Sports chairman and chief executive) and Ed Goren (president of Fox Sports): Hill's vision has been the guiding force as Fox Sports has reshaped the way racing is shown on television since 2001. As Hill climbs other business mountains, Goren's leadership has become particularly vital. 4Lesa France Kennedy (International Speedway Corporation president and NASCAR board member) and Jim France (NASCAR executive vice president and ISC chief executive officer): Paired again because they attend more directly to the track ownership side of the business at ISC. Both are extremely smart and invaluable to sustaining the France family empire. . 5Bruton Smith (Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman) and Marcus Smith (SMI executive vice president national sales and marketing): Bruton Smith is approaching his 80th birthday, but he show no signs of taking his foot off his business accelerator. If he ever does, his son Marcus is poised to take the wheel. Mike Helton (NASCAR president), W Robin Pemberton (NASCAR vice president of competition) and John Darby (Nextel Cup Series director): The trio who run the competition side of Nextel Cup racing. It falls to them to make the . "car of tomorrow" a success and to keep Toyota from wrecking the sport's competitive balance. Failure on either score is not an option. I v' GRtGG ELLMANKRT NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France 7 Dale Earnhardt Jc (Nextel Cup driver): Unrivaled popularity means he can go anywhere and do anything he Bodenhelmer wants in motorsports and sponsors will line up for the opportunity to help him do it. If he ever wins a championship, hell threaten Brian France for No. 1 on this list-" ; 8 George Bodenheimer (president of ESPN and ABC Sports and co-chair man of Disney Media Networks): A bit anticipatory, perhaps, since ESPNABC doesn't resume NASCAR telecasts until next year. But the wheels are already in motion, and Bodenheimer's networks will change the game again the way Fox and NBC did five -years ago. 9 Mark Dyer (NASCAR vice president of licensing and consumer products): He played a key role in bringing the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship format to the sport. Lots of the big stuff passes across his desk. - f Gary Forsee (SprintNextd chair--LU man and chief executive officer) and Len Lauer (SprintNextel president and chief operating officer): The handoff of power from Nextel's key executives to these top figures in the merged company is . largely complete. If the company is going to fulfill its 10-year $750 million contract, these guys have to stay NASCAR fans. Aero-push racing a broken record that needs fixing I i usical acts, movie stars and massive p re-race extravaganzas have always been an integral part of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but the real show is what goes on out there on the track. Saturday night, that show was a flop. Last week, Tony Stewart was right on the money when asked to predict what might happen on the track's new pavement and the brick-hard tires Goodyear has built to endure the inaugural event held on it. Take away mechanical grip, Stewart said, and aero grip becomes more crucial. When Nextel Cup care must rely on having f k y. clean air on their noses to handle properly, the car getting that clean air becomes impossible to pass. So, time after time during last Friday's Truck Series race and the Nextel Open preliminary and the Challenge itself a night later, a vehicle breaking to the front of the pack drove away from the car behind it. Once a gap of two to three seconds was attained, the effect stabilized and that was that. Only cautions for wrecks or one of the contrivances in the all-star event's format mandatory pit stops, segment breaks, field inversions and the like altered anything. Yes, Challenge winner Jimmie Johnson did come from 11th to second during the second segment. But he picked up virtually all of that ground on the double-file restarts and by avoiding a seven-car wreck on Lap 49 that started because Kasey Kahne and Mark Martin wrecked as they fought for the lead. Kevin Harvick then took the top spot, and for all of the progress Johnson made in getting to second he wouldn't have caught Harvick in 300 laps, much less 30, had both cars never needed to stop. So when Johnson completed his pass of Harvick on the third lap of the 20-lap final segment, it was all but over. After last year's two disastrous races on the then "levigated" surface here, track officials and Goodyear played a behind-the-scenes blame game. This time, Goodyear made certain its tires wouldn't be popping like Jiffy-Pop kernels. So it went several additional gradations toward the "hard" end of the compound scale in building this model, figuring safe would be better than sorry. NASCAR also decided 14-gallon fuel cells would provide another level of safety, figuring more frequent stops would allow teams to keep a closer handle on tire wear. Such wear issues don't seem relevant now, and the smaller fuel cells are another contrivance to provide the illusion of competition. If teams must make green-flag stops every 35 laps, lead changes could pile up even though no one's really passing anybody. COCA-COLA 600 Where: Lowe's Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile paved banked quad-oval located in Concord, N.C. When: Sunday at 5 p.m. (all times ET). Qualifying is 7:10 pjn. Thursday-TV: Fox. Radio: Performance Racing Network. Puree: $6,452,431. . : Last year's winner: Jimmie Johnson. Worth mentioning: Ryan Newman has started from the top five in all 10 of his races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the longest cur-rent streak. Jeff GordonJias won four races at LMS, but his last win came in October 1999. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION Who will win the 2006 Coca-Cola 600? Cast your vote at: www.thatsracin.com LAST WEEK'S QUESTION What's your favorite part of NASCAR's annual all-star show at Lowe's Motor Speedway? Number of votes: 4,959 i. , ' .;, : " t It's no-points, no-holds 2,000 40 barred racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. " 715 14 ' Jeff Gordon. " 607 12 All of the above. , " 533 11 '1 The crews get some spotlight. 511 10 Mark Martin. 342 ' , 7 ; Someone else. 234 - 5 That it's in Charlotte, N.C. ' 17 1; WHO'S HOT Jimmie Johnson: Lowe's Motor Speedway should be renamed Jimmie Johnson Motor Speedway. Greg Biffle: Season's just getting started. WHO'S NOT The Chase: After 11 races, just 10 drivers are within the 400-point window. One year ago there were 19 still eligible. Jamie McMurray: It's been four years , since his only Nextel Cup win. Four years. OBSERVATIONS There was a concert, some football players, personalities, lots of fireworks and, oh yeah, there was racing, too. NASCAR's Nextel All-Star Challenge has crossed over the wrong side of the line between entertainment and sports. Next year let's have more competition and fewer circus acts. . Matt Kenseth re-signed. Kevin Harvick" re-signed. Casey Mears appears headed to re-signing. Yet at least four more Toyota Cup rides need to be filled next season. If s a driver's market absent the drivers. Jim Utter I NEXTEL CUP POINTS LEADERS The top-40 drivers as of May 13: RankDriver Points RankDriver Points 1. Jimmie Johnson .1686 21. Brian Victors ....1070 2. TonyStewart .... 1593 22. Martin Truex Jr. ..1057 3. Matt Kenseth.... 1592 23.JJ.Yeley........1053 4. Mark Martin 1487 24. Reed Sorenson.. 1053 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1460 25.Jeff Green ..1053 6. Jeff Gordon 1391 26. Scott Riggs 1013 7. Kyle Busch 1388 27. Bobby Labonte . . 1007 8. Kasey Kahne '....1379 28. Robby Gordon.... 991 9. Kevin Harvick.... 1365 29. Joe Nemechek.'. . . 988 10. JeffBurton 1295 30.KenSchrader 982 11. Casey Mears.... 1280 31,DaveBlaney 962 12. DaleJarrett 1237 32. Kyle Petty 958 13. Denny Hamlin ...1219 33. Sterling Martin ....951 H.GregBiftle 1189 34. Jeremy Mayfield . .880 15. Elliott Sadler 1181 35. Michael Waltrip ... 818 16. Clint Bowyer 1181 36. David Stremme... 764 17. Carl Edwards.... 11 61 37. Scott Wirnmer ....747 18. KurtBu9ch 1146 38. Travis Kvapil 680 19. Ryan Newman... 1118 39. Tony Raines 591 20. Jamie McMurray . 1 099 40. Kevin Lepage 584 T EUSCH SERIES POINTS LEADERS ; The top-20 drivers as of May 12: RankDriver Points RankDriver Points 1. Kevin Harvk.... 1945 1 LBumey Lamar ... 1267 2. Clint Bowyer 1598 12. Matt Kenseth .... 1268 3. Dermy Hamlin ...1566 13.JonWood 1256 4. Carl Edwards.... 1559 14. Reed Sorenson.. 1247 5. KyleBusch 1490 15.Kenny Wallace... 1242 6. Paul Menard 1483 16. Jamie McMurray . 1175 7. Greg Biffle....... 1469 1 7. Ashton Lewis .... 1175 8. J.J.Yetey 1432 18.MaikMcFartand. . 1147 9. Jason Leffler 1322 1 9. John Andrew .... 1134 1 0. Johnny Sauter... 1302 20. Michael Waltrip .. 1084 NEXT RACE: Saturday, Carquest Auto Parts 300, Concord, N.C. ? TRUCK SERIES POINTS LEADERS 1 . The lop-10 drivers as of May 19: RankDriver Points RankDriver Points 1. ToddBodine 1017 6. Johnny Benson ... 788 2. Ted Musgravt ...1000 7. DavkJ Starr 783 3. DavkJ Reutimann.. 896 8. Dennis Setter .... 778 4. Mark Martin 844 9. JaokSoragu 765 5. Terry Cook 808 10. Matt Crafton 760 NEXT RACE: Saturday, Mansfield 250, Mansfield, Ohio

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