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Lowe's Racing's Web Site Congratulates
Johnson On His Fourth Cup Series Title
WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR JIMMIE? In DC, Liz Clarke wrote Johnson's "history-making moment" yesterday at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is "largely being met with indifference by casual sports fans and a measure of irritation by many ardent NASCAR fans who've grown weary of his spot-on performances down the stretch." While corporate sponsors "delight in Johnson's sterling comportment on and off the track, traditional NASCAR fans often fault him for being too polished and politically correct," as they "tend to prefer more polarizing drivers -- guys who raise a little hell once in a while -- whether for the purpose of cheering or booing." NASCAR radio host Pat Patterson said the racing circuit was "almost quilted together with personalities, and those personalities were what people clung to." Patterson: "The problem right now is, there is nobody that's making you jump off the couch to make you kind of hang onto them. ... People aren't in love with NASCAR; they're in love with the people who race in NASCAR" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22). Former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler said of Johnson, "A lot of people think he's boring. I think he's the absolute, dead-on model for what people should be" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21). In Miami, Greg Cote writes Johnson is the "guy who gives boring a good name." He is "nobody's NASCAR prototype," but he is "just the best guy in it" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/23).
BEST OF THE BEST: The WASHINGTON POST's Clarke writes yesterday's race "capped an extraordinary season for Hendrick Motorsports, which collected its ninth Sprint Cup Championship (tying Petty Enterprises' all-time mark) and its 12th NASCAR title in all divisions of racing." Also, Hendrick drivers "finished first, second and third in the standings," with Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon finishing second and third, respectively (WASHINGTON POST, 11/23). Meanwhile, ESPN.com's David Newton reported a "family emergency" kept Rick Hendrick from attending yesterday's race. Hendrick's niece, Alesha Gainey, was "undergoing an emergency liver transplant in North Carolina" (ESPN.com, 11/22).
Hendrick Negotiating New Deal With Dupont,
Jeff Gordon's Primary Sponsor
IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: The AP's Jenna Fryer reported Volkswagen Motorsport Representative Hans-Joachim Stuck was at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, "fueling speculation that the automaker is interested in joining Toyota as the second foreign manufacturer in NASCAR." Top NASCAR officials confirmed that Stuck "met with the sanctioning body on Saturday at the track." A source said that Volkswagen officials "expressed interest in entering a racing series, but indicated they are more inclined to pick a series that showcases technology." A "second option for Volkswagen could be the Grand-Am Road Racing Series, which is owned by NASCAR and uses foreign engine makers" (AP, 11/21).
BACK ON TRACK: BAM Racing co-Owner Beth Ann Morgenthau said that the team, which has been on hiatus since '08, "plans to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2010." NASCAR SCENE's Kenny Bruce reported BAM's No. 49 Toyota will feature sponsorship "provided by Warner Music Nashville, which will use the opportunity to promote various releases by new and established artists." Larry the Cable Guy "will adorn the team's entry at Daytona to help kick off the release of his new CD, 'Tailgate Party.'" BAM had been out of the sport "because of a lack of sponsorship" (SCENEDAILY.com, 11/22).
Earnhardt Jr. Likely To Remain NASCAR's
Most Popular Driver Despite Down Year
CULTURAL EXPANSION: ESPN.com's David Newton wrote NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya has "touched a culture in the Hispanic community that NASCAR was unable to tap into before his arrival three years ago." Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-Owner Felix Sabates said of Montoya, "He brings a higher class of fans than any other driver in NASCAR. I don't say that to be disrespectful. ... He brings a mixture I don't think any other driver out there does." Homestead-Miami Speedway for yesterday's Ford 400 offered "two ticket packages that included $42 donations to the driver's charity foundation," and "more than 2,400 were sold." Newton wrote "one could argue that Montoya, through his own popularity, has done more for NASCAR's diversity program than anything the governing body has accomplished on its own" (ESPN.com, 11/20).
IMG Dir Of Talent Marketing Alan Zucker Will
Represent Joe Mauer Off The Field
Nike's Proposed 10-Story Mural Of LeBron
Promotes The New Pro Combat Line
TOO MUCH OF AN ADVERTISEMENT TO TAKE: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, "Somebody should stand guard against blatant advertising." The mural is a "creative attempt to show the scaly look of the Pro Apparel line, but some feel the bare chest along with James' scowl don't make for a positive image." The current mural, showing James in a Cavaliers uniform, "carries a Nike swoosh that somehow passes the civic art sniff test along with the words 'We are all witnesses.'" Shaw: "I'm not sure how the Cavaliers uniform triggered spasms of art appreciation. But it's clear the proposed mural's failure to advertise the city or the team had the opposite effect" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22). Also in Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote, "I agree with those who rejected the idea of the new Nike mural of a bare-chested LeBron James in 'prepare for combat' mode. ... It seems the Nike people (if not James) should be aware that there is a real war going on with real people from Northeast Ohio in danger every day. Those women and men are the real soldiers, not some guy in the NBA. Nor does the ad say a single word about Cleveland" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22).