Icharlotte Notebook:/I Saturday

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CONCORD, N.C. – A flap over NBC’s refusal to use the name “Lowe’s Motor Speedway” on the air led to the speedway’s attempt to tow away a network satellite truck Saturday afternoon.

The dispute apparently stems from Lowe’s or the track not buying advertising for the broadcast.

NBC referred to Saturday’s Little Trees 300 Busch Series race as “NASCAR Busch Series racing from Charlotte, N.C.” The network has called other race similar anonymous names because some sponsors haven’t bought packages for the race broadcast.

Last week’s Winston Cup race at Kansas Speedway, the Protection One 400, was called that only once per hour. But no other track has a title sponsor like this one.

LMS, NBC and NASCAR officials were meeting Saturday to try to work out their differences, but the situation wasn’t resolved.

“The dispute over the name of the speedway is childish,” track president and general manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said. “This television deal is supposed to be a partnership between the speedway, NASCAR and the networks. We had no problems with Fox or Turner, really. NBC has decided to play with different rules.

“Our contract clearly calls for them to call the speedway its official name – Lowe’s Motor Speedway. This dispute hasn’t been resolved. Surely, common sense will prevail before race time tomorrow. If not, I believe NBC is going to learn a very, very serious and expensive lesson if they don’t honor the contract.”

But the contract doesn’t say that NBC must say the name of the track, according to NBC spokesman Mike McCarley.

“The network cannot say the name of the speedway in any other way than its correct form, which is Lowe's Motor Speedway,” NASCAR vice president George Pyne said. “By our agreement with NBC, they are prohibited from calling Lowe’s Motor Speedway anything else but Lowe’s Motor Speedway. We expect they’re going to honor that agreement.”

The Fox network, which broadcast the Coca-Cola 600 here in May, did refer to the track by its official name. But Lowe’s bought advertising for that broadcast.

“This isn’t a new process for the speedway because Lowe’s or their agency had to negotiate their advertising buy with Fox for the first half, you can be sure that issue came up,” Pyne said. “This issue should not have been a new development.”

Pyne also said he expected the matter to be resolved by Sunday, and said he’d be “very surprised if the race isn’t on and millions of fans didn’t watch it.”

Dodson Explains Eel River Demise
Eel River Racing closed the doors on its NASCAR Winston Cup Series operation earlier this week, and it has left a bad taste in the mouth of Barry Dodson, team co-owner and general manager.

The team, which changed drivers in mid-season and struggled just to make races throughout the 2001 campaign, ceased operations at Noon on Tuesday. Dodson said there is just one employee left at the Mooresville, N.C. race shop, who is taking care of the personal belongings of the team and it’s employees.

Dodson said he wanted to take the opportunity to address the media at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon so that he wouldn’t have to field calls from numerous reporters.

Dodson cited mismanagement of the team and it’s finances on the part of team co-owners Jack and Devon Birmingham as the main reasons for the team’s demise.

“It all boils down to a matter of money and the way it was spent,” said Dodson, a long-time Winston Cup crew chief. “Basically, the C.F. Sauer Company sponsorship is what closed the doors – the way Devin Birmingham and his father (Jack) approached the company. We were very limited on wind tunnel development, and that hurt us badly. Several factors went into it all.”

The C.F. Sauer Company and its Duke’s Mayonnaise brand came on board as the team’s primary sponsor in May prior to the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, when Kenny Wallace was the driver of the No. 27 Pontiac. The team failed to make races on a consistent basis after that, and Wallace left the team.

Rick Mast was hired as the driver soon after, but the team’s performances didn’t pick up, and that didn’t sit well with the C.F. Sauer Company.

“They’re a wonderful corporation,” Dodson said of the sponsor. “You don’t need a contract with them. A handshake is good enough with them. Mark Sauer was sent a proposal from the team, which I never got to look at, and Mark read it, and they were deciding on our future together. Mark Sauer made a comparison about our situation to his son Max’s report card. He got Ds and Fs on his report card, then he was asking for a shiny new go-kart for Christmas. They were willing to grow and learn with us, and they knew we had been going through trying times. They’ll remain in Winston Cup racing, but not at Eel River.”

Dodson expressed his disdain for the current provisional system in Winston Cup racing, which he said contributed to Eel River Racing missing several races this season.

“Basically, without any points, we were working without a net,” Dodson said. “I don’t know why you have to have seven provisionals. I’m all for 1 or 2, with maybe the guys high in the points or a past champion’s provisional, but seven is totally uncalled for.”

Dodson said he’s already received several phone calls about potential employment for himself.

“There’s been a lot of interest there,” Dodson said. “And I want to remain in Winston Cup racing, without a doubt, because this is where I belong. But wherever I go, I can’t do it wrong again. I still know how to race, but at the age of 48, I can’t do it wrong again. I know I can do this. You can go on and on and on, but it’s a matter of money. We couldn’t get a commitment from C.F. Sauer for next year, and I respect those guys for the decision that made not to come with us. There was no reason for them to do that.”

Alexander Funeral Tuesday
The funeral for Blaise Alexander is scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. EDT at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Mountoursville, Pa. Visitation will be Monday from 2 to 10 p.m. at Spitler Funeral Home in Montoursville.

A memorial service planned for Wednesday at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C.

The family has requested that no flowers be sent. Instead, donations can be sent to The Blaise Alexander Memorial, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast Pennsylvania, 515 Sandhill Road, Montoursville, PA, 17754.

Alexander Honored
The Busch Series Ladies Association (BSLA) distributed decals in remembrance of Blaise Alexander for the Little Trees 300 NASCAR Busch Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Alexander passed away Thursday night after suffering injuries in the ARCA race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The Montoursville, Pa., native has been a significant contributor to the BSLA, raising funds through his annual charity golf tournament in Elysburg, Pa.

All Busch Series teams received the decals to place on the cars as well as a smaller version to be worn by competitors within the series. The decals were provided by The Decal Source and were not made available for the general public.

“Blaise has been such an avid supporter of the BSLA,” stated the Association’s president, Julie Markham. “He has given us donations several times and participated in many of the events we hold throughout the season. We wanted to be a part of honoring such a great person and friend.”

Tickets Still Available
A variety of ticket options are still available for Sunday’s UAW-GM Quality 500. Tickets start at just $19. Fans may purchase tickets the day of the race at all main entrance gates. Reserved seats start at $29, and a limited number of frontstretch seats are available starting at $39.

Speedway officials warn fans coming to Sunday’s race to avoid ticket scalpers.

“There is no need to purchase tickets from anyone besides the speedway ticket staff,” said Doug Stafford, executive vice president of the speedway. “In the past, we have seen non-speedway personnel selling counterfeit tickets and tickets at more than face value. We can accommodate everyone’s ticket needs when they arrive at the speedway Sunday morning.”

Long Gets Sponsor
Carl Long, who is starting his first Winston Cup race Sunday, picked up sponsorship from Motorsports Designs, Inc. on Saturday. Motorsports Designs is a supplier of decals and graphics to race teams.

Long is using a Petty Enterprises engine, and since Kyle Petty failed to qualify, his team will pit Long’s car Sunday.

“I’m not supposed to be in these races,” Long said. “I’m not supposed to make ‘em. I’m just thinking if I can run close enough to scare ‘em, maybe somebody would give mea chance.”

Kirby Another Surprise Qualifier
Carl Long wasn’t the only driver who shocked a few people by making the race. Twenty-year-old Stuart Kirby qualified Bob Schacht’s Ford in the 22nd position.

“A lot of people didn’t expect us to make this race, but Bob and I never doubted the ability of each other and this race team,” Kirby said. “This is a big boost for me and a big boost for the team. We have turned a lot of heads by beating some of the best race teams in the world.”

Kirby has raced in ARCA this year after driving Late Models at Nashville Speedway USA. Schacht is a former driver in ARCA and Winston Cup.

Jarrett's Grandmother Passes
Lena Winebarger Bowman, Dale Jarrett's 92-year-old maternal grandmother, passed away Saturday after a period of declining health. Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Ned (Martha) Jarrett and Mrs. Harold (Revonda) Rockett, and a son, Sterling C. Bowman.

Mrs. Bowman proudly claimed to be Dale's biggest fan and made the statement several times that she didn't want her death to keep him from racing.

The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Conover, N.C.

Elizabeth Dole in the House
Elizabeth Dole, former Secretary of Labor and current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will be a guest of Lowe’s Motor Speedway during Sunday’s UAW-GM Quality 500. The Salisbury, N.C. native is attending the race at the invitation of Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith.

Dole will participate in the Winston Cup drivers’ introduction at the start/finish line.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001, Lowe's 500

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