ECONOMAKI: Chase Blitz Bombs

REMOTE CONTROL: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Jeff Gordon (left), Kyle Busch (center) and Tony Stewart race remote control cars during a visit to ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters last week. (ESPN Photo)

REMOTE CONTROL: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Jeff Gordon (left), Kyle Busch (center) and Tony Stewart race remote control cars during a visit to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters last week. (ESPN Photo)

NYC Media Not Interested In NASCAR Stars

NASCAR’s annual pre-Chase media blitz through The Big Apple produced little more than a whimper in terms of real public relations. Since the inception of the Chase in 2004, NASCAR has brought the contenders to New York City prior to the opening race of the Chase to the Championship and in the past they have appeared on some of television’s top-rated programs. This year, the appearances were minimal despite the expense of bringing 12 drivers and their entourages to New York for a day. Only ESPN, which televises all 10 Chase events and stands to benefit from its hype, provided a major hit for the sanctioning body with Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch appearing on multiple ESPN programs, including SportsCenter during a visit to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus. The Sprint Cup trophy, but none of the drivers, appeared on set during ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” but it was clear the majority of the New York media couldn’t be bothered with racing.

While NASCAR kicked off its Chase to the Championship Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, there are more than a few other close title races going on. Entering this past weekend, Joey Saldana held a mere two-point lead over Jason Meyers in the race for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series title, but Meyers took over the point lead and leads Saldana by only three markers with eight events remaining. As well, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series entered the weekend with Josh Richards leading Darrell Lanigan by only two points, but Lanigan grabbed the point lead and now holds a two-point advantage over Richards. The IZOD IndyCar Series fight is heading to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Will Power and Dario Franchitti both in contention, Power ahead by 12 markers. The Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Championship is closing in on the end of its season this coming weekend (Sept. 24-26) with multiple drivers with legitimate chances of taking the title, which requires that drivers first win a track championship to be eligible for the national crown.

We laughed out loud when we read Jimmie Johnson’s response when asked about his golf game this past weekend. In part, Johnson said, “Golf is a means to drinking beer for me…” While typical of many of the nation’s golfers, it was not the type of response one would expect from the four-time NASCAR champion who once broke his wrist when he fell off the top of a golf cart.

Talk about big money. Texas-based Concho Resources, Inc. has acquired Marbob Energy Corp., the Artesia, N.M., oil company owned by NHRA Pro Stock veteran Johnny Gray, in a $1.65 billion deal. Concho says the acquisition, set to close in November, includes Marbob’s Artesia facilities, 2,300 drilling sites and an estimated 76 million barrels of proven oil reserves. In the first quarter of 2010, Marbob produced 14,000 barrels of oil per day.

Ashley Force Hood can cover 1,000 feet in 4.032 seconds in her Funny Car, but it took the 27-year-old second-generation driver some 20 minutes to get out of an elevator when the doors jammed on the way to a media appearance Thursday in Charlotte.

Among those interested parties at zMAX Dragway for this weekend’s race were Colin Braun, Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Jason Leffler, Emerson Fittipaldi and Max Papis, who was a guest of Geico Powersports teammate Morgan Lucas. Papis sat in Lucas’s dragster during a warm up and watched multiple runs from the starting line Friday and Sunday. He admitted he would love to give the “bad-ass” type of racing a try.

During a B.R.A.K.E.S. benefit dinner Thursday night, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer recognized Top Fuel pilot Doug Herbert with the Palmetto Patriot Award, an honor bestowed upon individuals who have made outstanding contributions to their fellow citizens, for his work with B.R.A.K.E.S., Herbert’s teen driving program created in the wake of the traffic accident that claimed his sons Jon and James in 2008.

Subscribers in the Dayton, Ohio, area who are experiencing delivery delays may call Ronda Mullins at the USPS Consumer Affairs office, (513) 684-5794. There is apparently a delay in the Dayton area due to a transition at a local USPS plant.

Don Schumacher Racing Senior Vice President Mike Lewis dispelled rumors that online auto auction house Copart, Inc. is joining the six-car DSR fold in 2011. Copart is currently in a one-year agreement with Kenny Bernstein Racing as the primary sponsor on Brandon Bernstein’s Top Fuel dragster. KBR spokesperson Susie Arnold told NSSN the team is still lining up sponsorship for next season.

Joey Saldana may have lost the World of Outlaws point lead to Jason Meyers on Friday, but he still had a pretty good day as his wife Shannon gave birth to the couple’s second son — Ragan.

Fans of auto racing periodicals got good news this past week with the announced return of Speedway Illustrated. The magazine’s former editor Karl Fredrickson and a group of investors have acquired the rights to the magazine, which launched in January 2000. Dick Berggren, who launched the original publication, is also expected to be involved in the new version of Speedway Illustrated.

The Pennzoil Chaparral Indy car in which Johnny Rutherford won the Indy 500 driving for Jim Hall in 1980 will be taken from its museum home in Midland, Texas, and hopefully do a run at the annual Commemorative Air Force Air Show in Midland Oct. 9 or 10. It is being done for the 30th anniversary of Rutherford’s win. Details are still being worked out, but Rutherford may come take a spin in it during the air show. The car is currently housed in the Petroleum Museum in Midland in Hall’s Chaparral Gallery, which also includes a handful of cars designed and raced by Hall.

The Stephen Low Co. is developing an IMAX 3-D movie, which will focus on the Indianapolis 500. The documentary will celebrate the auto racing experience and its historical and enduring connection with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first Indianapolis 500 was held May 30, 1911, and the IMAX film is targeted for an October 2011 release.

The second Richard Petty Driver Search was held this past week in the Concord, N.C., area with 12 drivers from eight states, Canada and Barbados participating. Ryan Wilson was named the winner and will receive a fully funded ARCA ride for the Oct. 9 event at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. But one of the most popular participants was driver Happy Ferree. Yes, that is his real name, Ferree said, noting that one day he would like to tell NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kevin “Happy” Harvick who the real Happy driver is. We wonder, if you can’t market a smiling driver named Happy, what exactly can you market?