NOTEBOOK | NASCAR Nextel Cup
Hurricane relief: Several of NASCAR's drivers and teams have set up programs and funds for contributions to the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Jimmie Johnson and sponsor Lowe's will donate $480 dollars to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts for each of the 250 laps Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet completes today at California Speedway. In addition, Lowe's will donate $4,800 and Johnson and his wife, Chandra, will donate $48,000, regardless of the race outcome. Robby Gordon Motorsports will donate $7 for each lap his No. 7 Chevrolet completes for the remainder of the 2005 Cup season to the Harrah's Employee Recovery Fund, which sponsor Harrah's Entertainment established to assist its employees experiencing the after-affects of the tragedy. If Gordon completes all of the remaining 3,877 laps in the final 12 races, the team will donate more than $25,000 to the fund. Additionally, the team will donate 10 percent to the fund from its merchandise sales for the rest of the season. Penske Racing South also has started a hurricane relief fund within its headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. The team will gather monetary donations throughout the next two weeks with all proceeds being sent to the American Red Cross. Penske Corp., headed by team owner Roger Penske, has said it will make a matching donation.
Avoiding Katrina: Kim Crosby and her husband, Chris, were among the lucky ones who got out before Hurricane Katrina hit. Crosby, who will drive in Saturday night's Busch series race at California Speedway, lives in Slidell, La., a suburb of New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. They left the area last Sunday and waited out the hurricane in Vicksburg, Miss. After the storm, the Crosbys went back to Slidell and found their home still standing, although much of the area is under water and will remain uninhabitable for some time. "Our home was spared," Crosby said. "We do have every tree down in the yard, but that can be fixed and taken care of. We have a roof over our head, but we won't have water or power for at least a month But we are lucky compared to those in Gulfport and other parts of Slidell and downtown New Orleans."
Big race: Jamie McMurray knows how it feels to barely miss out on the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship, and he doesn't want to go through that again. Last year, McMurray missed being included in the 10-man, 10-race championship battle by a mere 16 points. Going into today's Sony HD 500 at California Speedway, McMurray is again desperately trying to make the Chase field. He is 12th, just 12 points behind 10th-place Jeff Gordon with two races remaining until the final segment begins. "For me to say this is an important weekend for us would be an understatement," McMurray said. "The way I see it, this is a make or break race in terms of getting into the Chase. A bad finish will pretty much eliminate us. We're only 12 points out of 10th, but the guys we are trying to beat have been running strong lately. Its imperative that we either maintain or move ahead of them at California so we have a shot at getting in after Richmond."