Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hunter: Chase changes coming for '07 season

Hunter: Chase changes coming for '07 season

January 4, 2007
05:29 PM EST (22:29 GMT)

More, more, more -- that's the message from NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter.

During a visit to USA Today's newsroom in McLean, Va., on Thursday, Hunter said NASCAR is "still running the models" but the 2007 Nextel Cup season will feature more points for victories and more drivers in the Chase for the Cup, the newspaper reported on its Web site.

Hunter said an official announcement will be made during NASCAR's media tour Jan. 22-26 in Charlotte.

NASCAR chairman Brian France hinted at changing the Chase last June.

"What I have always said about the Chase was we needed a few years under our belt to see how it evolves, how it changes in strategy, see how the actual formula we have really works," France said. "Now in our third year ... it's the ideal time for us make adjustments."

The Chase was devised by France when he took over as chairman in 2004. The format was designed to spice up a stale championship race in which winners were running away with the title and routinely clinching before the season finale.

France wanted more excitement and a dramatic playoff system that could compete with the NFL for television ratings.

The result was the Chase, which uses the first 26 races of the season as a qualifier to set up the title run. The top 10 drivers in the standings automatically make it in, and any drivers within 400 points of the leader are also eligible.

They then compete during the final 10 events to decide the championship.

"We'll be looking at nothing new -- everything that we'll be looking at has been brought up by various people the last couple of years," France said last year. "Just various things that we think will build what we're hoping for, which are big moments and a bigger stage for the drivers.

"That's what the Chase has always been about. It's about showcasing their skills."

72-year-old Hylton plans to enter '07 Daytona 500

72-year-old Hylton plans to enter '07 Daytona 500

By Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM
January 3, 2007
12:05 PM EST (17:05 GMT)

Forty-one years after making his Daytona 500 debut, James Hylton feels now is as good a time as any to give it another go.

With a car and engine acquired from Richard Childress Racing, Hylton announced plans to enter the 2007 Daytona 500, driving the No. 58 Chevrolet.

At 72, Hylton would easily become the oldest driver in Daytona 500 history. Dave Marcis was 61 when he finished 42nd in the 2002 race.

"I have never been able to come to Daytona with a well-financed operation and a first-rate car," Hylton said. "I have always wanted to be able to race the 500 and not be limited by budget constraints and even though it has taken over 40 years, I am finally at that position.

"At my age, the odds against me are astronomical but it's a challenge and I love a good challenge."

To put it in perspective, only 15 drivers in the 2006 Daytona 500 were alive when Hylton drove Bud Hartje's 1965 Dodge to a ninth-place finish in the rain-shortened 1966 Daytona 500, five laps behind eventual winner Richard Petty.

Certainly, Hylton knows his way around the 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway, having made 36 career starts at Daytona, including 15 in the Daytona 500. His best finish came in the 1967 race, when he was third, a lap behind Mario Andretti and Fred Lorenzen.

"I was running a 1965 Dodge that I had purchased from Cotton Owens and was staying on the led lap until I had a tire go down late in the race," Hylton said. "I had little financial backing, I was running with nothing."

Hylton, who had been a mechanic and crew chief for Rex White and Ned Jarrett up to that point, made his NASCAR driving debut at Manassas, Va., on July 8, 1964. He finished 19th -- and took home $100.

He went on to win 1966 rookie of the year honors and finished runner-up for the NASCAR championship three times between 1966 and 1971. During an 11-year stretch that ended in 1977, Hylton finished out of the top 10 only twice.

Hylton's last Cup start came in 1993, when he parked his car after 62 laps at Darlington. He made his first Busch Series start in 24 years at Milwaukee in June, running four laps before being sidelined with brake problems.

At that point, he became the oldest driver to start a NASCAR race, easily eclipsing Herschel McGriff, who was 65 when he started the 1993 Save Mart Supermarkets 300K at Sonoma.

Hylton plans to put Washington native Damon Lusk in the No. 58, starting at Bristol.

"We are looking at running 19 Nextel Cup races in 2007 and Damon is a perfect fit for our plans," Hylton said. "Over the years, Damon has exhibited that he has the ability to step up to the Nextel Cup level.

"Damon had a good run in 2006 in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and 2007 will give him a chance to move up to the next level."

Monday, January 01, 2007

Sirius NASCAR Radio is on the air on Channel 128

Sirius NASCAR Radio is on the air on Channel 128

Press Release
January 1, 2007
12:34 PM EST (17:34 GMT)

Sirius is now the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR and, starting Jan. 1, features a new 24/7 year-round radio channel dedicated to the sport.

Featuring specialized programming that will be heard exclusively on Sirius, Channel 128 will provide the most comprehensive, in-depth radio coverage of NASCAR, with live coverage of NASCAR races and a lineup of exclusive talk shows hosted by two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, The Charlotte Observer beat reporter and columnist David Poole, broadcasters Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and John Kernan, and other current and former drivers.

Sirius is now the exclusive satellite radio home of every Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series race, carrying the live broadcasts of Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and the IMS Radio Network's broadcast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to the live race broadcast, Sirius will take fans into the cars and pits by devoting up to 10 additional channels that will carry driver-to-crew communications during Cup Series races. Sirius will combine the race broadcast with the driver-to-crew chatter on these channels, allowing fans to hear the overall race call and the in-car audio of a driver on a single channel throughout the race.

The lineup currently includes:

• The Morning Drive, hosted by Poole and Snider (every weekday, 7-11 a.m. ET).

• The Driver's Seat, hosted by Kernan with a roster of current and former drivers including Hall of Famer Buddy Baker, Johnny Benson, Randy LaJoie, Ron Hornaday, Ricky Craven, Phil Parsons, and John Andretti (every weekday, 11a.m - 3 p.m. ET).

• Tony Stewart Live, hosted by Stewart and Yocum (Tuesdays, 8-10 p.m. ET).

All NASCAR content is provided to Sirius customers at no additional cost over Sirius' monthly subscription fee. For more information visit

Camel sacrifice, spray-on condom among 2006 oddities

Camel sacrifice, spray-on condom among 2006 oddities

By Erik Kirschbaum
Sun Dec 31, 8:32 AM ET

BERLIN (Reuters) - From the Turkish Airline workers who sacrificed a camel at Istanbul airport to celebrate a job well done to the German who invented snug spray-on condoms, the world was full of offbeat news in 2006.

While "Miss Israel" Yael Nezri was exempted from carrying her assault rifle in the Israeli army because it bruised her beauty queen legs, "Mr. Switzerland" Renzo Blumenthal lured lonely women who hate soccer to his country for the World Cup.

Careless thieves once again made headlines round the world. A burglar in Germany left behind a vital clue -- his finger tip.

"We usually find finger prints but it's not every day that the thieves leave the original there too," a police spokesman said. It took only a few hours to track down the thief.

A Jordanian salesman was arrested for trying to fleece a money exchanger with a fake ID card bearing a Brad Pitt picture.

In Vienna, burglars fled after finding eight severed human heads. A dentist had stored the mummified heads for research.

Village leaders in India ordered 150 men to dip their hands in boiling oil to prove their innocence after food was stolen.

An Australian man stopped for drunk driving threatened police with a live snake he picked up off the road.

In Cologne, a plastic surgeon cheated out of payment by two women using fake names gave "Wanted" pictures of their enlarged breasts to police. "It's probably the most unusual 'wanted' poster police ever had," wrote top-selling Bild newspaper, which helpfully published life-size pictures of the boosted breasts.

There were tragic moments too. In Hanoi, a Vietnamese man famous on a national TV program for his ability to resist electric shocks was electrocuted while fixing a generator.

In Rio de Janeiro, a Brazilian man died when he tried to open a rocket-propelled grenade with a sledgehammer.


The political year began with a bang when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a friend on a quail hunt.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany sparked rioting by admitting he lied to win a general election.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, pretended to slap a cheeky teen-ager for a photograph but was questioned by police after child protection officers reported her.

Random acts of bad judgment in 2006 included: the Philadelphia man who pulled a gun on his 7-year-old son's football coach to demand more playing time; and in Koblenz, Germany, a woman who was caught driving her dead mother across country to save on mortuary transport costs.

Two women working at the German Labor Office got into trouble for writing emails at work moaning about their dull sex lives -- and sending the exchange to thousands of co-workers.

A pilot of Air Canada's Jazz subsidiary got locked out of the cockpit after stepping out to go to the washroom.

Three doctors in India were caught by a TV camera agreeing to amputate healthy limbs of beggars who wanted more sympathy.

Love had its strange moments too. Two prisoners in an Ivory Coast jail got married after falling in love through the peephole in an iron prison door.

And in Finland, a court ruled against a woman in her 20s who charged a 74-year-old man 25,500 euros ($32,000) to fondle her breasts on 10 occasions.

"Based on general life experience, it is indisputably clear that a 25,500 euro charge is disproportionate to the compensation in question," Judge Hasse Hakki told Reuters.

Romney to submit paperwork for 2008 bid

Romney to submit paperwork for 2008 bid

By GLEN JOHNSON, AP Political Writer
14 minutes ago

BOSTON - Gov. Mitt Romney this week will submit the necessary paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee, but not until funeral services for former President Gerald R. Ford have concluded, according to a top aide familiar with his plans.

Romney will file by Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, the aide said, a registration that will allow the Massachusetts governor to raise and spend money in pursuit of the 2008 GOP nomination.

Romney, like Ford, is from Michigan. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have already taken the same step.

Romney ended a 10-day vacation at his home in Utah on Monday, and he had intended to file his paperwork on Tuesday, the first business day of the new year. But Ford's death on Dec. 26 triggered a mourning period that will close federal offices and the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, and the former president will be buried Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"We want to be very, very respectful of that," said the Romney aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity pending the creation of the presidential committee.

Ford's death overshadowed last week's presidential announcement by former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who declared he would seek the Democratic nomination.

While the committee filing will be labeled "exploratory," it will declare Romney as an official presidential candidate and commit him to the same fundraising and reporting rules he will have to follow when, as is expected, he transitions to a formal presidential campaign committee.

A formal announcement is expected sometime later this year, although Romney is planning a major fundraising event in Boston on Jan. 8 to propel his candidacy.

Romney aides believe the governor, the son of George Romney, a 1968 presidential candidate and the former governor of Michigan, can find a following as a youthful alternative to McCain and a more conservative candidate than Giuliani.

If successful, Romney would become the first Mormon elected president.

The 59-year-old is a former venture capitalist who made hundreds of millions of dollars at Bain Capital helping start such companies as Staples, the office-supply giant. He took over the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City following a bid-rigging scandal that was an embarrassment to Utah, the United States and the International Olympic Committee.

In 2002, he returned to Massachusetts and won a four-year term as governor, his first and only stint in elective office. He unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., for the U.S. Senate in 1994.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Romney will take the "lone walk" down the 31 steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse, a ceremonial departure reserved for presidents, heads of state and departing governors. On Thursday, Democrat Deval Patrick will be sworn in, the first black governor in the state's history and only the second elected in the nation since Reconstruction.

Romney will not attend the ceremony, instead settling into his new campaign headquarters in the city's North End. Aides began moving into the building on Monday, another sign of the impending campaign.

The governor plans to base his campaign out of Massachusetts primarily for logistical reasons, rather than Michigan, his birth state and host to a key early presidential primary, or Utah, a power base in the politically important Mountain West.

Aides say the governor relishes returning to his wife, Ann, and his Belmont home after a stretch of campaign travel. Basing the campaign in Boston also allows him easy access to political consultants in Washington and financial backers in New York.

In addition, it will allow him easier access to New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary, and will allow him to stay either in Massachusetts or a second vacation home in the Granite State.