People, Places & Racing News

ROBERT YATES AND NEWMAN-HAAS-LANIGAN ANNOUNCE MERGER AND OTHER RACING NEWS

THE MERGER: It is clearly the time of the merger in NASCAR racing. After last week’s reported merger between Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Ginn Racing, Robert Yates Racing joined forces with Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing, bringing together one of auto racing’s best stock-car teams and one of the best open-wheel teams.

WORKING TOGETHER: On Monday, JR Motorsports, which is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports announced they would merge their NASCAR Busch Series programs, with both the No. 5 and No. 88 coming out of the JR Motorsports shops while running with Hendrick engines and Hendrick technical support. Also, Richard Childress Racing and Kevin Harvick Inc. have signed an agreement to work together in the Busch Series.

FIRST TIME: Although Toyota had previously won races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the company posted its first NASCAR stock car victory when Jason Leffler won the Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. It is Toyota’s first season of competition in the Busch and Nextel Cup Series.

CHANGING JOBS: Mike Neff, who tunes the Funny Cars wheeled by Gary Scelzi, will leave the Don Schumacher Racing team at the end of the season, and he will join John Force Racing next season, but as a Funny Car driver, not a crew chief.

TWICE AS NICE: Jerry Coons Jr. became a two-time winner of the Belleville Nationals for midget cars, the most prestigious midget race of the summer season. As well, Tony Stewart won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard for the second time.

ONE MILLION: Champ Car World Series officials claim its attendance is up 16% this year and that the series greeted its one millionth fan during Saturday’s activities at the San Jose Grand Prix.

NEAR THE END: American Formula One driver Scott Speed is nearing the end of his rope with the Toro Rosso team for which he drives. “As far as my future in Formula One is concerned, you can’t pay me enough money to race for those two people again,” Speed said of team owners Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger.

NEW LEADER: Despite having the weekend off, IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon, who has won three straight races, moved to the top of the National Speed Sport News Power Rankings.

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