Sunday, May 15, 2005
Gibbs showing patience
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Gibbs took a break from his job as Washington Redskins coach Saturday to attend the NASCAR Nextel Cup race. He addressed his team's status before the event. Tony Stewart entered the night in the top 10 with Bobby Labonte 33rd and Jason Leffler 36th. "In Tony's case ... he's been, if not the best, one of the best cars in about five of the races this year," Gibbs said. "Something would happen that would keep us from winning. I think in Bobby's case, we haven't had a chance to find out most of the time. We haven't qualified that well and he's gotten caught up in wrecks. Most of the time, honestly, it hasn't been his fault. I really have confidence that Bobby will bounce back from this. In Jason's case, I think it's a first-year team. It shows you how hard the sport is."
Leffler's performance has begun to raise questions about if he'll remain with the team.
"I know there's been a lot said about that," Gibbs said. "Obviously, you get concerned. You've got a huge sponsor (FedEx) there. We are certainly going to go after it with Jason and try to get everything we can done we can there. It always boils down to performance. We've got to be successful there."
Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports, says he's confident that Dale Earnhardt Inc. will sign Martin Truex Jr. to a new contract soon. Michael Waltrip's situation, though, is not as certain.
Truex' contract expires after this season. While there is interest in the Cup garage for the defending Busch series champion, DEI has it set up for him to drive Cup cars full time next year with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor.
"Martin's dad and I talk pretty much every day. I think we'll get back together with (car owner) Teresa (Earnhardt) next week and, hopefully, we'll get something together," Gilmore said.
Gilmore says that Waltrip's sponsor NAPA has an option for next season. That leaves Waltrip's status uncertain.
"We talked to Michael last week," Gilmore said. "We told Michael that we're trying to get the NAPA deal and then we can sit down and talk with him about talk about the future."
NASCAR Chairman Brian France hinted that there could be changes to the Darlington race next year because of its late finish last week. France made the comments to XM Satellite and a transcript was posted on nascar.com.
Asked if something might be done because the Darlington raced finished after 11:30 p.m. last week, France said: "I think they had 11 or 12 cautions and it was longer than anticipated and that may have us re-think, should it start half an hour earlier or something, I'm not sure.
"Of course, remember it finished later than we'd like, but that's a benefit to the West Coast people who were coming home from dinner or whatever the case is. But it doesn't matter, we have to finish it at a reasonable time and we'll adjust that if we have to."
Speed Channel has announced that its show "NASCAR Nation" will be cut from an hour to 30 minutes beginning June 27.
The network also has announced that the show's hosts will change. Krista Voda is taking a job in Pittsburgh and Ralph Sheheen will return to "Speed News."
Leeann Tweeden, who modeled for Frederick's of Hollywood and appears on "The Best Damn Sports Show," will host "NASCAR Nation," according to a statement on her Web site.
Hall of fame
The deadline for cities to submit bids to be the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is May 31. Richmond is competing against Charlotte, Atlanta and Kansas City. Richmond officials announced Saturday some of their plans and expectations.
They are basing their bid on the city's central location to the Eastern U.S. and say they project 700,000 visitors to the Hall of Fame.
Bobby Labonte's car was sponsored by Boniva, a treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Stan Hull, senior vice president for U.S. Pharmaceuticals, says the product for women works with NASCAR's demographics.
"We want to reach women very early, 25 percent of the fans are actually candidates for osteoporosis," Hull said. "If we can educate them early, they're going to do a better job of taking care of their bones.
Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer attended Saturday's race. ... Former Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk attended Saturday's race.