Hills Bros. Donlavey At Odds

AVONDALE, Ariz. - AVONDALE, Ariz. – A day after Hills Bros Coffee announced it was moving its sponsorship to Bill Davis Racing’s No. 93 Dodge for 2002, the company asked Donlavey Racing to remove its decals from the No. 90 Ford.

Team owner Junie Donlavey replaced Hut Stricklin, who is also moving to BDR, with Rick Mast, and Hills Bros didn’t like the change.

“Our performance this year has not been as good as we hoped and expected,” Donlavey said in a statement. “Obviously, it was not as good as our sponsor wanted since they notified us that they were leaving at the end of the season. It is our team’s best interest to make whatever change we could to improve our performance.”

So Donlavey changed drivers. But Hills Bros didn’t agree with the switch and sent Donlavey a letter informing him they are terminating the contract agreement and asking the team to remove any Hills Bros logos.

So the Donlavey team spent part of Saturday morning peeling off decals, meaning Mast will drive an unsponsored car in Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Mast and Donlavey are talking about getting together next year. The one problem is a lack of sponsorship. The C.F. Sauer Company is a possibility, as it sponsored a second Donlavey car with Mast driving at Talladega last weekend.

“We’re looking to do the rest of this year and we’re in talks about next year right now,” Mast said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I’d love to do the deal, but we’ll have to see what goes on.”

The Mast-Donlavey union appears to be ideal, especially since both are Virginia natives.

“That’s pretty cool,” Mast said. “You’d be surprised. We started at Talladega when I drove Junie’s car there and a lot started that week, but this week it’s been amazing the e-mails and phone calls I’ve gotten from people in Virginia. I’ve heard from politicians and fans and everybody thinks it’s such a good deal. It’s pretty cool.”

Pressley to Drop Down?
Robert Pressley announced at Martinsville two weeks ago he was leaving the No. 77 Jasper Motorsports team after the season. With Stricklin filling the No. 93 seat, the number of Winston Cup rides is dwindling, so Pressley may find himself on the outside next year.

“The Truck Series is not out of the question, the Busch Series is not out of the question and the Cup Series is not out of the question,” Pressley said. “But what I want to do is win races. Whatever series I go to next year, I want to be competitive and I want to win races.

“I feel real good. I think the future is gonna be pretty good with whatever I do. I want to race, but the biggest thing I just don’t want to be listed as a Winston Cup driver, I want to be in a competitive car that can come out here every week and go for wins.”

Pressley is making his 200th Winston Cup start this weekend.

“I never really dreamed about going Winston Cup racing when I was racing around Asheville (N.C., Pressley’s hometown),” Pressley said. “In fact, I never really looked or thought much about that when I was running in the Busch Grand National Series in the early 90s. It was always something where I was content with the Busch Series and the Late Model Stock series.

“I was pretty happy just doing what I was doing because I was winning races all the time and when you’re winning you really don’t think about venturing out to other things. What got my attention the most was that once I got out there and teams started calling me. It was probably around 1992 or ‘93 when I started to hear from various people who wanted me to come over to Winston Cup, and I turned down three or four deals before I ever even sat down and talked to anybody about moving to this level.”

Pressley began his Winston Cup career with Leo Jackson in 1995.

You Can’t Block What You Can’t See
Tony Stewart has an interesting solution to solving the problems of restrictor-plate racing.

“I would take the rear-view mirrors out the cars,” Stewart said “I know that sounds stupid, but if you can’t see the guy behind you, you can’t run a guy all over the race track and block him. I’d have NASCAR hire 43 people to scan each driver’s frequency and make sure the spotters don’t then drive the cars for them.

“The rules the way they are force us to do things in race cars that we would never do at any other race track on the circuit.”

Violation Raises Questions
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rules violation at Talladega has raised some eyebrows in the garage area. Some have wondered why any violation doesn’t warrant a disqualification, and others brought up the age-old belief that there needs to be hard, fast rules on sanctions for specific violations.

“It’s something worth talking about because it appears to me that there are things that are excusable,” Jeff Burton said. “If you set your car up the way that we’re able to set our cars up today, the front springs are probably gonna settle, and the car being low is a forgivable offense. Now, at what point is it not forgivable? If you’re 3/16s of an inch low, you get fined 20 grand for every 16th of an inch, and once you get passed that, you’re out.”

Some violations aren’t forgivable, Burton said, like cylinder heads or manifolds being too big.

“If you had an illegal intake, that’s an unforgivable offense because you knew it was illegal when you put it on,” Burton said. “There needs to be forgivable incidents, but there also needs to be black and white. The problem with not being black and white is it opens the door for questions, and our sport doesn’t need questions. When the winner is judged to be the winner, he’s the winner and he won fair and square. If you get caught doing things, you need to fined or you need to have your points taken away and there needs to be consistency in how they do that.”

Andretti Has 43 On Front Row
John Andretti’s qualifying effort Friday was his best of the season, but he fell short of his first pole since 1999, also at Phoenix.

“I’m more disappointed about Kyle (Petty) not being on the pole than I am about me being second,” Andretti said. “I don’t mind being second if Kyle was first.”

Petty, Andretti’s car owner, was fastest in Friday’s practice but managed only the 28th-fastest speed in qualifying. But the Petty Enterprises banner – which has remained largely unfurled this year – was carried by Andretti Friday.

“A pole would have been nice for a lot of reasons,” Andretti said. “This has been a very difficult season…our team has sort of been in hiding the whole year.

“Kyle has put a lot of effort into this, and the Petty team has put a lot of money and energy into it. They deserve some recognition for that, and a pole would have helped us help you give us that, but second is a step forward. The last couple of weeks, the Petty cars have qualified for the races solidly, and that’s a big step forward.”

Schrader ‘Stars and Stripes’ Car On Sale
Proceeds from the sale of a Ken Schrader diecast car will be donated to the American Red Cross Sept. 11 disaster Relief Fund. The car will be a 1:24th scale replica of the car Schrader raced in the MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway. That car was painted like an American flag and carried no sponsorship decals.

A donation of $30 from the sale of each $55 diecast car will be made to the fund.

“I was extremely honored to drive the ‘Stars and Stripes’ car at Dover, but I think it’s really neat that we’ve taken things one step further,” Schrader said. “Now the car is more than a paint scheme, it is a way for all NASCAR fans to reach out and support the disaster relief efforts of the American Red Cross. I think we are all still looking for ways to help. As passionate as NASCAR fans are, I think we have the opportunity to raise a lot of money for the victims and their families with this program.”

Dodge Introduces New Race Truck
Dodge unveiled its 2002 Ram 1500 model for the Craftsman Truck Series on Friday night. The old model won this year’s manufacturers’ championship despite being in its fifth year of racing.

“With 14 wins in the 2001 season, we’re proud to say the Dodge Ram is kicking everybody’s tailgate,” Dodge Global Brand Center vice president Jim Julow said.

NASCAR officials approved the 2002 Dodge for competition on Oct. 17.

The hood has a more pronounced crown, and the new model features a chrome grille with a honeycomb center.

“We call the front bumper the ‘chrome horn,’” Dodge driver Joe Ruttman said. “I’d say with that new grille we’re going to have next year, that horn just got a whole lot louder.”

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