Inotes:/I Pattie Joins Nemechek Again

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Brian Pattie followed Joe Nemechek to the Winston Cup Series on Wednesday, joining Hendrick Motorsports as crew chief for the No. 25 Chevrolet. Pattie, Nemechek’s crew chief in the NASCAR Busch Series, replaces Ken Howes.

Pattie will work with Nemechek at Hendrick for the remainder of the season, beginning with this weekend’s Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Howes, who replaced Tony Furr, returns to his former role as director of competition.

“Brian will bring a youthful energy and an aggressive approach to Hendrick Motorsports,” Hendrick Motorsports president John Hendrick said. “He’s already developed a lot of chemistry with Joe after working with him for many years, and we believe that relationship will pay dividends for the UAW-Delphi team on the race track.”

Pattie started working with NEMCO Motorsports in 1994 as Nemechek’s chief mechanic on his Busch Series team. Pattie then joined Hendrick’s No. 25 team in 1996 as a fabricator and mechanic before returning to NEMCO a year later. That season, as Nemechek’s crew chief, he won two races and three poles.

Pattie, 27, has won 11 races and nine poles with Nemechek and Ron Fellows as drivers.

“I’m excited about returning to Hendrick Motorsports and continuing my work with Joe on the Winston Cup level,” Pattie said. “I’ve got a great team, a talented driver and the best equipment in racing. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Nemechek joined Hendrick Motorsports at the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway after replacing Jerry Nadeau, who was fired.

Sadler Slips In, Sadler Slips Out
Donlavey Racing announced earlier in the week that Hermie Sadler would get another week in the No. 90 Ford, but upon further review, Sadler won’t be at Michigan.

Sadler, who replaced the ailing Rick Mast in three races - qualifying for two - is also driving the the Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway, so team owner Junie Donlavey decided to put Ed Berrier in the No. 90 this weekend.

Donlavey said possible scheduling conflicts between Michigan and Kentucky were the reasons why he’s using Berrier instead of Sadler. Berrier started the 2000 season as a Rookie of the Year candidate with Donlavey before being replaced.

SAFER Barrier at Brickyard 400
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced this week that the “soft walls” that were in place for the Indianapolis 500 last month will be used for the Aug. 4 Brickyard 400.

The SAFER Barrier will be the first application of soft walls used in NASCAR. Lowe’s Motor Speedway tried a version of soft walls, but only on the inside walls of turns. The SAFER Barrier will be in place on the outside wall of all four turns at Indy’s 2.5-mile oval.

Officials from NASCAR, Indy and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility met to discuss the wall and its application for NASCAR, and the decision was made to use the wall for the Brickyard 400.

“It was the first chance that that group was able to get together after the 500 and review the entire month, from installation, to the impacts, how readily sections could be changed out, ways we had developed to restore the SAFER Barrier to raceable condition,” said Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “This was the first time NASCAR officially heard from IMS officials that there was a great initial success with the use of the SAFER Barrier, and that there is every reason to keep it in place for the Brickyard 400.”

Forbes said modifications to the barrier for stock-car use would be minor. Winston Cup cars weigh almost 2,000 pounds more than Indy-cars, but Forbes said “the only modifications it’s going to require are we are going to put a little more extruded polystyrene in between the blocks we already have.”

The bundles of polystyrene were placed between the existing concrete wall and 20-foot sections of the barrier’s modules – which consist of four rectangular steel tubes welded together.

Daytona Testing, Part Two
Testing at Daytona has become a ritual in NASCAR, as fans, drivers and teams await the start of a new season. Of course, that testing is done in January for Speedweeks in February. Still, testing at Daytona goes on at other times during the year.

Kenny Wallace was at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway this week in preparation for the Pepsi 400 Winston Cup race and the Stacker 2/GNC Live Well 250 Busch Series race. Wallace will drive his regular No. 48 Innovative Motorsports Chevrolet in the Busch race and will be behind the wheel of a Michael Waltrip Racing No. 98 Chevrolet for the Cup race.

“It’s going to be real exciting,” Wallace said of doing double-duty. “With the Busch Grand National cars being here with the Winston Cup cars, it’s going to be Speedweeks all over again. I think we all need to re-nickname it mini-Speedweeks.

“I love doing double duty. I’ve always been hyper. My brother Rusty and them other guys, they like to sit around and run Winston Cup. I get bored. If there’s a race, I want to be there, especially if I’m at that race track.”

Wallace tested his No. 98 car – which is Dale Earnhardt Inc. equipment – in the 181 mph range.

“This testing we’re doing today is for everybody,” Wallace said. “My Busch Grand National shop and everybody from (DEI drivers) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, Steve Park and me. These are all DEI cars and motors. This is what big organizations are made of – constant development.

“Just because Junior won Talladega and Michael Waltrip finished second doesn’t mean Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon aren’t going to be here so we’ve got to keep developing.”

Testing, IROC Style
Ryan Newman tried his hand at testing this week, too, but it wasn’t at Daytona and it wasn’t in a Winston Cup car. The talented rookie drove an IROC car at Indianapolis as the series prepares for its race there in August.

“The Signore’s, (IROC president and general manager) Jay and (his wife) Barbara, gave me a call and said, ‘Come up here and test,’ ” Newman said. “They could just use a little help in trying to figure out the cars and the track and stuff like that. It gives Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter and Andy Hillenburg someone else to talk to and gives me some experience at the same time, too.”

Newman isn’t participating in IROC this season but he couldn’t resist the chance to drive on his home track. Newman is from South Bend, Ind. He qualified fifth for last year’s Brickyard 400 and led three laps before hitting the wall.

“We had a shot at the pole, and we had a great race car, and we got crashed out but finished the race, though,” Newman said. “It’s a fun race track; it’s fun to drive. It’s a prestigious event for me because it’s Indiana, and I just look forward to coming back.”

Staff Writer Lee Montgomery can be reached at lee.montgomery@rmg3.com

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