KERCHNER: Friday Morning Heat Race


With the holiday rush upon us, this week’s Friday Morning Heat Race will be fast and furious. Today’s heat race is 10 laps:

1. Midget racers don’t seem to pack up their stuff for the winter. More than 60 midgets have entered tomorrow night’s POWRi-sanctioned event at the Southern Illinois Center. Entries are stout for the Dec. 31-Jan. 1 Rumble in Ft. Wayne and 240 cars are already registered for the 25th annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Jan. 11-15 at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway.

2. American drivers are on the rise in the IndyCar Series. Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball have  joined Chip Ganassi Racing and J.R. Hildebrand has been hired by Panther Racing, becoming the first American driver of the National Guard supported Indy car, following Englishman Dan Wheldon and Brazilian Tony Kanaan. Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay are Americans with full-time rides in the series, while Ed Carpenter has a nine-race contract with Sarah Fisher Racing. Doesn’t sound like many, but last year Andretti, Patrick and Hunter-Reay were the only U.S. drivers with full-time drives.

3. It’s December and road racer Hurley Haywood is coming out of retirement again. That’s about as shocking as Brett Favre’s annual return to the NFL.

4. New York taxi cab king Andrew Murstein is jumping into racing with two feet. Not only has he become the majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, but now he is pushing to build a NASCAR track in the New York City area, possibly alongside the Aqueduct Racetrack (horses) in Queens. It is likely the NYC red tape will gobble up this idea like so many before it and we wonder where Mr. Murstein will be in another three years. It’s impossible to count the number of wealthy team owners that have come to NASCAR racing and disappeared quicker than a case of poison ivy.

5. National Speed Sport News will not publish again until Jan. 19, but make sure you logon to www.nationalspeedsportnews for all the latest in motorsports news.

6. What happens if a snowflake falls two counties away? In North Carolina, we put out a red alert, schools are cancelled and most everyone stays home.

7. Repaving is complete at Daytona Int’l Speedway and the track hosted two days worth of tire testing Dec. 15-16.

8. Crazy prediction of the week. Not only will Nelson Piquet, Jr. impress with his performance in a Kevin Harvick, Inc. NASCAR Truck next season, but he will win more races than team leader Ron Hornaday.

9. How can anyone associated with Formula One racing believe that team orders are good for the product?

10. If team orders are acceptable in Formula One, can Dale, Jr. orders be far behind in NASCAR?

That’s all I’ve got today. Our next heat race is scheduled for Christmas Eve.

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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.