A three-judge panel from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday unanimously overturned a temporary injunction that has allowed AT&T logos on the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton.
Since AT&T has up to five days to ask the court to reconsider, it is not clear whether the logos will be on Burton's car this weekend at Michigan.
Atlanta-based U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that AT&T could put its logos on Richard Childress Racing's car in place of Cingular logos. Cingular was grandfathered under NASCAR's deal with Sprint Nextel as title sponsor of stock-car racing's top series.
AT&T and Cingular merged in December and the Cingular brand name was phased out. AT&T argued the company merely changed names and that the team was not getting a "new" sponsor. NASCAR said its agreement with Sprint Nextel protected only the Cingular brand.
The appeals court panel ruled that "because Cingular (now A&T Mobility) was neither a party to nor an intended beneficiary of the grandfather clause, it had not suffered legal injury as a result of NASCAR's denial of the logo change."
The panel said the grandfather clause was to protect RCR from an immediate loss of sponsorship as a result of the Sprint Nextel deal, and that any benefit Cingular got was incidental.
"We believe this is a victory for the entire industry," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Every driver and team in the sport benefits, from our tire manufacturer, our fuel supplier and the series title sponsors. This decision confirms those relationships."
Petty uncertain after a bad break
Kyle Petty broke his right hand Sunday when he slammed the hand onto a door inside his hauler after falling out of the Centurion Boats at The Glen.Petty was treated and released from the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International infield care center, then returned home and saw a doctor who determined the hand is broken.
Petty is scheduled for surgery today before determining his status for Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.
He completed 56 of the 90 laps Sunday and was credited with a 43rd-place finish.
Autograph seeker arrested, charged
A man was arrested for jumping a fence and coming onto the track during a red flag Sunday to seek an autograph.
A track spokesperson identified the fan as Brett Hibbert of Kenmore, N.Y. He asked Nextel Cup driver Matt Kenseth to autograph a baseball cap as the cars sat idle during clean-up after an incident in Turn 1.
The fan was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and criminal trespass in the third degree, both misdemeanors. He was arraigned and released on bail Sunday. The track also banned the fan from future events and asked other tracks to honor the ban.
Andretti to take reins of No. 49
John Andretti has been named to drive the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge for the rest of the season, beginning this weekend in Brooklyn, Mich. Mike Bliss, Chad Chaffin and Ken Schrader had shared the ride this year.
"We have made significant changes across the board in the past weeks to improve our overall program," team owner Beth Ann Morgenthau said. "With the pressures of qualifying on time, and our commitment to our sponsors, we felt that an immediate change was necessary."
Andretti has been in five Cup races this year, four for Petty Enterprises and one for a team owned by Bob Jenkins.