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NASCAR news roundup for January 9th

by Dave Grayson
Sunday, January 09, 2011

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Michael Waltrip the comedian
While the NASCAR focus should be squarely aimed at the upcoming test session at Daytona, there seems to be some other very interesting story lines this week. Michael Waltrip is on the verge of publishing a book and then plans on hitting the road as a stand up comedian. Also this week some very deserving drivers and teams received some good news regarding their 2011 plans. Then there was the matter of a bizarre lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment that actually has a stock car racing connection. With those thoughts in mind let's begin this week with:

THUMBS-UP to Michael Waltrip for expanding his horizons in some very unique ways. One would think Waltrip would be plenty busy overseeing his two NASCAR Sprint Cup teams with the start of a new racing season so close at hand. But he's found time in his schedule to undertake some new adventures.

Just this past weekend he was in Dubai where he joined Michael Waltrip Racing co owner Rob Kauffman and competed in a sports car road race. Waltrip got to race a high powered Ferrari which he referred to as "a dream."

Waltrip also announced plans to drive one of his own Toyotas in the February 20th Daytona 500. It will mark his 25th consecutive appearance in the great American race. There are also plans for him to compete in Daytona's annual Bud Shootout as well.

Michael Waltrip the author will make his debut on February 1st with the release of "In the Blink Of An Eye: Dale, Daytona And The Day That Changed Everything." This book tells the poignant story of Waltrip winning the 2001 Daytona 500 only to have that special moment completely overshadowed by the tragic accident in this race that claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt Sr. It's anticipated that the book is going to hit the best seller's list.

Then there's Michael Waltrip's Comedy Garage. Headlined by premiere stand up comedians Henry Cho and John Reep, the comedy tour will be hosted by Waltrip who will also perform a stand up comedy routine. The tour makes its official debut January 21st at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino in Kansas City and then it's on to Ontario-Canada the following day. There is also a scheduled stop at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

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Speaking of the Waltrip family, WHAT's-UP with NASCAR champion, turned broadcaster, Darrell Waltrip and a recent concern regarding age issues? In a recent "Twitter" message "DW" wrote: "I'm really upset about my age. I just realized I missed my mid life crisis. (I) think I'll go out and buy a sports car, a convertible no less."

Hang in there 'DW". It won't be much longer before you'll be returning to the Fox Sports broadcast booth to cover the Daytona 500. That experience will make anyone feel young again.

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Here's some THUMBS-UPS for drivers and teams who made quick work of answering the door when opportunity came knocking.

The first one goes to Sprint Cup driver A J Allmendinger, and his Richard Petty Motorsports. team, who recently found out that Best Buy Stores will be returning as a primary sponsor this year. The national store chain will be on the hood of Allmendinger's #43 Ford for 24 races plus the two non points events: the Gatorade Duels and the All Star race. Best buy will also be an associate sponsor on RPM's second team driven by Marcus Ambrose.

THUMBS-UP to Justin Lofton who recently announced that he will be driving a Toyota Tundra for Germain Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year. After winning the ARCA Series championship in 2009, the talented driver from southern California spent his rookie season in the truck series impressing a lot of observers. His 2010 stats included four top fives finishes, eight top tens and 12th in the final points standings.

THUMBS-UP to Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing who recently announced plans to collaborate with Second Chance Motorsports for the first five races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The plan calls for Cobb to drive the #79 Ford Mustang with Roush Yates supplying the engines. More races will be added to their schedule if additional sponsorship can be found. Cobb will be rather busy this year with plans to continue campaigning her self owned Ford team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

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On the opposite end of this extreme, WHAT's-UP with Roush Fenway Racing's struggles finding sponsors for their three NASCAR Nationwide Series? Carl Edwards, who will again be racing the full Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series schedules, only has enough sponsorship from Fastenal to cover half of the 34 Nationwide event after Copart announced they would not be returning this year.

Meanwhile RFR's other two Nationwide Series teams, driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Trevor Bayne, may find themselves starting the new season with no sponsor logos at all on the hoods of their cars.

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The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to the SPEED Channel for their planned comprehensive coverage of the upcoming pre season Sprint Cup test at Daytona set for January 20th through the 22nd. Check www.speed.com for air times. Hang in there racing fans, the withdrawals are almost over.

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The final WHAT's-UP of the week belongs to Kentucky resident Ronald Basham and a lawsuit he recently initiated against World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE. It seems that approximately 11 years ago the then seven year old Basham was attending a WWE event that featured wrestling superstars "The Rock" and "Triple H." The intensity of this match eventually wound up in the grandstands where a female fan was accidentally hit causing her to land on Basham's right leg and knee. After filing the lawsuit 11 years later Basham said that "at age seven he was too young to sue for himself." His attorney said his client "suffered severe and painful injuries that will continue to bother him." This is despite the young man's stint playing high school football.

So, what does any of this have to do with auto racing? It seems that Basham went on to become a stock car driver at his local race track despite the intense pain in his leg. His personal "Facebook" page is loaded with photos and video streams of his racing career including some hard crashes into concrete retaining walls. Don't bother looking up Basham on "Facebook." It seems that his attorney, in recent days, had him remove everything connected to racing from the page. Imagine that. 

I just thought you might find this change of pace story interesting but that's assuming that you can "smell what the Rock is cooking."

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