The weather was warm and sunny Sunday morning at Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Checker Auto Parks 500 Race.
During Driver Introductions, my untrained ear told me that the loudest crowd reaction went to TONY STEWART/No.20 Home Depot Chevrolet - cheers and boos mixed together with a resounding roar. The loudest cheers went to DALE EARNHARDT Jr/No.8 Budweiser Chevrolet, with KEVIN HARVICK/No.29 Reese's Chevrolet a close second.
BORIS SAID and DANICA PATRICK were chatting it up in the NASCAR Nextel Cup garage Sunday morning in the bright sunshine, and what a photo op was that. Said is at least six feet seven inches tall and she is not. Said will run six Nextel Cup races next season with his new team, co-owned by BRIAN and MARK SIMO of No Fear. The six, an increase of two over the 2006 schedule, include both Cup road races (Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen Raceway) as well as the two restrictor plate tracks which have two races each - Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Speedway. The choice was made based on luck, said Mark Simo. Said was lucky in restrictor plate racing this year, and will build on that. The team's sponsor will continue to be the No Fear Energy Drink...the one Boris touts. Buy more drinks and send Boris to more races.
Said has his own claque of faithful followers, who wear Said heads to the races - large colorful curly haired wigs. Mark Simo was wondering if there was a way to affix a wig on the helmet of the Over The Wall crew for the races.
BRIAN SIMO will run six NASCAR races next season also - the two Cup road races and four Busch Series races.
MAX JONES is now the General Manager for Nextel Cup motorsports at Roush Racing. About a month ago, he swapped positions with HARRY McMULLEN, who has been in charge of the Cup program.
Jones, 52, has a long history with Roush, dating back to racing for him in the IMSA heydays. Jones raced IMSA and Trans-Am for Roush, with TOMMY KENDALL for two years. Jones won his last ever race with Roush, co-driving with ROBBY GORDON in a Roush GTO Ford Mustang at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1991. Jones then worked on the managerial side of racing for Roush in the early days of the Craftsman Truck Series, as well with the Trans-Am and IMSA teams. During his tenure with the Truck Series, GREG BIFFLE won the 2000 Championship and KURT BUSCH was Rookie Champion and runner-up in the standings. Jones remained with Roush through 2002 when he left in 2002 to become General Manager for Red Bull Team Cheever in the Indy Racing League. Jones returned to Roush in June 2005.