David Poole's Inside Motorsports, a collection of midweek observations and information about a busy stretch of racing in the Charlotte area:
Who says there's no money in racing? Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday that Aflac, the insurance company for which driver Carl Edwards does commercials with the famous duck, will be the primary sponsor on Edwards' No. 99 Ford beginning next year. Sports Business Daily's Michael Smith reported the deal is for three years for $26 million a year, second only to the $30 million Dale Earnhardt Jr. got with Amp Energy and the National Guard last year.
One of the ideas H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler said he hopes to have time to work on now that he's retiring from Lowe's Motor Speedway is a new kind of car for local short track racing. "I still think we can build a Saturday night race car that sells for less than $20,000 that can be raced on a couple hundred dollars a week," Wheeler said. Scoff at your own peril. People laughed at Wheeler's idea for legends cars and 600 Racing has sold more than 5,000 of them all around the world.
Keep the name Matt DiBenedetto in mind as you think about the future of racing. DiBenedetto is 16 and Saturday night he won the UARA Stars Late Model race at Bristol Motor Speedway, becoming the youngest race winner in that track's history. DiBenedetto, a former Limited Late Model track champion at Hickory Motor Speedway, has already won three races in the UARA series this year.
MY TWO CENTS
If you're looking for somebody to root for among the go-or-go-home cars in Thursday night's Coca-Cola 600 qualifying at Lowe's Motor Speedway, may we suggest Jeff Green and the No. 34 Chevrolet.
Airman 1st Class Dave Snedeger of the 34th Fighter Squadron out of Hill Air Force Base in Utah contacted Front Row Motorsports in April and asked if its car could carry the squad's “Rude Rams” logo on the car since it and the squad share the same number.
The race team loved the idea and wanted to try to meet at least some of the 40 or so members of the unit. But within a week of that exchange the outfit was deployed to Iraq.
If Green makes the race, the unit will be able to watch it early Monday morning - Memorial Day - Iraq time on the Armed Forces Network. The race team is also sending a "care package" of items to the 34th.
"We are proud to support the 'Rude Rams' as well as our entire armed forces throughout the world," team general manager Harry McMullen said. "Our hopes and prayers are with them and we are proud to be just a small part of they you do."
BY THE NUMBERS
311 – NASCAR drivers listed as being from North Carolina.
28 – Drivers from North Carolina who have won Sprint Cup races.
53 – Races since the last driver from North Carolina won a Cup race - Brian Vickers at Talladega in 2006.
Outlaws rumble into The Dirt Track
Jason Myers won one of the two features in the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway in November, and he's carried that momentum with him early this season.
He comes to Friday's Rite Aid Outlaw Showdown at the four-tenths mile track across N.C. 29 from the 1.5-mile oval having won three races already this year. The driver from Clovis, Calif., has the points lead in 2008 after finishing fifth in last year's standings.
"We found something that worked well at The Dirt Track last year and we will come back with that same set-up," Myers said. "We've had a great start this year, but we are well aware that we have to keep digging and working hard at it every day. Our goal this year is to win the championship."
Former series champions Steve Kinser (a 20-time Outlaws champion), Donny Schatz and Danny Lasoski will be among those looking to stop Myers' momentum.
Late Model stock cars from the Goodyear FASTRAK Challenge series will join the World of Outlaws sprint cars on a day where there is no on-track activity scheduled on the 1.5-mile track.
Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
Drag strip's first 'race' set for Saturday
It might be on bulldozers or golf carts, but the first unofficial race at the new zMAX Dragway @ Concord is likely to happen Saturday when a group of National Hot Rod Association drivers get a tour of the new facility.
John Force, the 14-time Funny Car champion, and defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin and Pro Stock motorcycle champion Matt Smith will be among the drag racers attending the Coca-Cola 600 to promote the inaugural Carolina Nationals scheduled for Sept. 11-14 at the facility.
The drivers will wear logoed hard hats during their tour of the construction site that will be autographed and donated for auction to Speedway Children's Charities. Neff's car will be fired up during Coca-Cola 600 prerace activities.
While we're on the subjec
Women just keep making news in the National Hot Rod Association.
Rain plagued the Thunder Valley Nationals Sunday at Bristol, so it was after 10 p.m. when Melanie Troxel defeated Mike Neff in the Funny Car final.
Troxel, who has four Top Fuel event wins on her NHRA resume, switched to Funny Car this year and had not won a single round before winning four at Bristol. She's just the second woman to win in Funny Car, following Ashley Force, who became the first earlier this year.
Troxel is the first woman to win a race in both of the NHRA's nitro classes. She is the 14th overall to win in both Top Ffuel and Funny Car. Her husband, Tommy Johnson Jr., is also in that club.
The second annual Race City Pit Stop runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday in downtown Mooresville to benefit Serenity House. Show cars, racing simulators, live music and a live memorabilia auction will all be part of the event.
Matt Carter, the son of former NASCAR team owner Travis Carter, got his first career victory in his seventh Automobile Racing Club of America start Sunday at Toldeo, Ohio.
A transporter carrying the Wayne Taylor Racing team in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series was damaged in a fire as it returned to the team's headquarter in Indianapolis from a race near Monterey, Calif. The fire happened on Interstate 40 in Texas. Nobody was injured, but the transporter was damaged along with the team's No. 10 race car and other contents.