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NASCAR ROUNDUP \ News and notes



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Nicorette steps in: One year after kicking its decades-long cigarette sponsorship habit, NASCAR apparently needs a little help staying smoke-free. Nicorette gum became the first smoking-cessation product to enter NASCAR when GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare signed a sponsorship deal Thursday with Chip Ganassi Racing. Three of its quit-smoking products -- the gum, the NicoDerm CQ patch and Commit lozenges -- will be advertised on the rear decklid of Casey Mears' car for the entire season. Nicorette will also be the primary sponsor on the No. 41 Dodge for one race in a deal estimated to cost the company $3 million annually. The anti-smoking products enter the sport one year after R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's Winston brand ended its 33-year run as title sponsor of NASCAR's top race series.

Uneasy truce: Teammates Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman agree on at least one thing: You don't have to be buddies to work together. The two have had an uneasy relationship since last fall, when Newman bumped aside his Penske Racing South colleague late in a race at Martinsville Speedway. That knocked Wallace out of contention for a second straight Martinsville victory and left him seething. Since then, the two have been cordial, but haven't straightened out their relationship. "Neither one of us has had time to make it happen, but we've agreed to sit down in principle and try to work this stuff out. The basic hang-up is I'd say a big age difference," said the 48-year-old Wallace, who is preparing to begin his final season in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. Newman is 27. But the differences between the two drivers don't end with age. "I'm an active guy," said Wallace, who is co-owner of the team with Roger Penske and Don Miller. "I talk to a lot of my peers, a lot of the crew chiefs. I like to know what I'm up against and I don't like to be so close to the forest I can't see the trees." Newman agrees that he and Wallace don't see eye-to-eye on some things, but says it shouldn't really matter. "Everybody's different," Newman said. "You're a product of your environment. Rusty grew up a little different than I did and I have a different outlook on certain things. I'm an engineer and Rusty's not. Rusty's born and raised a short track stock car racer and I wasn't. When it comes down to it, Rusty and myself ... we're hard-nosed racers and, no matter if we're teammates or not, we go for the win. Roger Penske will never be mad at us for that."

Uneasy truce: Teammates Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman agree on at least one thing: You don't have to be buddies to work together. The two have had an uneasy relationship since last fall, when Newman bumped aside his Penske Racing South colleague late in a race at Martinsville Speedway. That knocked Wallace out of contention for a second straight Martinsville victory and left him seething. Since then, the two have been cordial, but haven't straightened out their relationship. "Neither one of us has had time to make it happen, but we've agreed to sit down in principle and try to work this stuff out. The basic hang-up is I'd say a big age difference," said the 48-year-old Wallace, who is preparing to begin his final season in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. Newman is 27. But the differences between the two drivers don't end with age. "I'm an active guy," said Wallace, who is co-owner of the team with Roger Penske and Don Miller. "I talk to a lot of my peers, a lot of the crew chiefs. I like to know what I'm up against and I don't like to be so close to the forest I can't see the trees." Newman agrees that he and Wallace don't see eye-to-eye on some things, but says it shouldn't really matter. "Everybody's different," Newman said. "You're a product of your environment. Rusty grew up a little different than I did and I have a different outlook on certain things. I'm an engineer and Rusty's not. Rusty's born and raised a short track stock car racer and I wasn't. When it comes down to it, Rusty and myself ... we're hard-nosed racers and, no matter if we're teammates or not, we go for the win. Roger Penske will never be mad at us for that."

Penske Mahal: Penske Racing South opened the doors of its new race shop during a media tour Wednesday night, showing off the enormous building that will house its Nextel Cup operation. "We had our people scattered over several buildings not too far from here, and half the time you couldn't find anybody you were looking for," Roger Penske said. "Now, we at least know they're going to be somewhere in the building." It still may not be easy for Penske or anyone else to find someone in the new building. The team is now using 300,000 of the available 425,000 square feet in the former air conditioner plant set on 104 acres in rural Mooresville, north of Charlotte. The building includes wide-open areas for each of the team's three Nextel Cup entries, including newcomer Travis Kvapil. Overlooking the main work area is a 330-foot-long fan walk from which spectators can watch the teams work on Penske's new Dodge Chargers. The sprawling building also includes a 120-seat auditorium, cafeteria and dozens of spacious offices.




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