Inotebook:/I Pettys Make Changes

John Andretti and Steve Grissom got new crew chiefs Wednesday as Petty Enterprises made some moves in its continuing attempt to improve its operation.

Greg Steadman, Andretti’s former crew chief, moves over to Grissom’s No. 44 team. Steadman will be replaced by Brandon Thomas, who joins the Pettys from Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bryant Frazier, Grissom’s former crew chief, will become car chief for that team.

Thomas also worked with Petty Enterprises vice president Robin Pemberton at Penske Racing from 1999-2001.

“Brandon and I worked well together at Penske,” Pemberton said. “I’ve seen him with a lot of racers, and he will fit in great with our people. His race experience and background will be a big plus for Petty Enterprises.”

Kyle Petty joked that Gibbs “kept asking for a first-round draft choice in 2003 to get the deal done, though.”

“This is just another step in continuing our progress at Petty Enterprises,” Petty said. “If we take the good people that we have, like Greg Steadman and Bryant Frazier, and add more quality talents like Brandon Thomas, we keep improving all of our teams. We were fortunate that Joe Gibbs and Jimmy Makar were willing to work with us, as they had Brandon under contract.”

The changes are effective for this weekend’s race at Pocono.

Wanke’s Appeal Denied
The National Stock Car Commission denied the appeal of crew chief Fred Wanke, who was disputing a fine handed down by NASCAR after Wanke’s car, driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., was discovered to be too low at the Busch Series race at Nazareth Speedway on May 19.

Wanke was fined $20,000, and he appealed the commission, which heard the appeal Monday. Wanke argued that a suspension component failed, causing the car to be too low. But the commission ruled that “the failure of a part on the race car does not excuse a car that fails to meet specifications, particularly in a closely contested sport where ‘equipment failure’ might be pre-engineered or caused intentionally in some instances.”

Hamilton Jr. finished sixth in the Stacker 2 200 but was able to keep his points despite the violation. Hamilton Jr. is seventh in the Busch Series points standings.

Benson Passes Road-Course Test
Johnny Benson’s test at Virginia International Raceway earlier this week was a success, and the Winston Cup driver will be back behind the wheel of the No. 10 Pontiac this weekend at Pocono.

Benson crashed in a Busch car May 3 at Richmond, suffering a broken rib and two cracked ribs. He missed two races, with Jerry Nadeau substituting.

“Our day of testing on the road course was really good,” Benson said. “I was very happy with it. Actually, I expected it would be good, but knowing that I’m OK is a lot better than thinking I’ll be OK. We were one of the top two or three cars here (at VIR), and that’s reassuring. For not having tons and tons of track time we were really pleased. The car ran great and the driver seemed to be pretty good as well.

“The only pain I had all day was getting in and out of the race car. Once I got strapped in and all situated I was feeling pretty good. Driving the car was fine. There were a few areas where I was sore, but heck I’ve been out of the car for three weeks, so that’s to be expected. I don’t think I’ll want to get in and out too often. Maybe if there is a rain delay during the race Ill just stay in my car and wait it out.”

Benson said he felt so good he might be regretting his decision to skip the Dover race last weekend.

“It was funny. After I ran all day on the road course – which is a lot more demanding than the oval tracks we run – I was kind of mad,” Benson said. “I was thinking I should have run Dover last weekend. But everyone on our team said we probably did the right thing by waiting to come back in Pocono. Our thinking was that we didn’t want to come back too early and make things worse. That wouldn’t be fair to our guys or Valvoline our team owner.

“Jerry did a good job in our car, and me taking an extra week to get healed was only smart. (Crew chief) James (Ince) said he’d rather have me at 80 to 100 percent than 50 to 60 percent. That’s what we did. It was a group decision.”

Eggleston Leaves Morgan-McClure
A little more than a week after being named team manager/technical director, Scott Eggleston has left Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Eggleston was crew chief of the No. 4 car driven by Mike Skinner but was moved to another position to elevate Chris Carrier to crew chief.

Eggleston had been with the team for one year.

Hornaday vs. Robinson
Ron Hornaday took over for Shawn Robinson in the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge for the Coca-Cola 600, but apparently there are no hard feelings. The two drivers will compete against each other in Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout Series next Tuesday.

Robinson and Hornaday will driver Winston Cup-style convertibles on the track’s quarter-mile oval on the frontstretch.

Last week, BAM Racing announced it was skipping next weekend’s race at Michigan to get ready for Daytona in July. Robinson will drive the car.

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