Musical Seats

Ever heard the expression about not being able to tell the players without a scorecard? It’ll be especially true when the Winston Cup Series starts its engines again this month for the 2002 season.

Jimmy Spencer has left Travis Carter’s Ford team and will now drive the Target-sponsored Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Joe Nemechek is taking over Spencer’s former ride.

Jeremy Mayfield, who abruptly parted ways with Penske Racing and the Mobil 1 Ford in 2001, has joined Ray Evernham’s Dodge operation and will pilot the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid. He replaces Casey Atwood, who will still drive a Dodge but shifts to the No. 7 Dodge in a joint effort by Ultra Motorsports and Evernham Motorsports.

Hut Stricklin and Hills Brothers are no longer in the Junie Donlavey Ford camp. Instead, the driver and sponsor have joined Bill Davis’ Dodge effort, and will replace Dave Blaney. Blaney, meanwhile, has shifted over to the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford formerly piloted by Robert Pressley.

Winless Mike Skinner hopes for better luck in the Kodak Chevrolet for 2002.

Robby Gordon, who served as a replacement driver for Mike Skinner in the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, has made the ride his own for the 2002 season. Skinner was released by Childress, and will now drive the Kodak Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

Lowe’s Home Improvement will back Jimmie Johnson, who will be vying for Rookie of the Year honors for Hendrick Motorsports.

Steve Park is still trying to recover from injuries suffered during the 2001 season, so Kenny Wallace will keep driving Park’s Pennzoil Chevrolet, owned by Dale Earnhardt Inc. Park’s return and Wallace’s status will not be determined until well into the 2002 campaign.

Other new faces include Ryan Newman driving the Alltel Ford, and former Busch Series champion Jeff Green moving up to the big leagues to drive the America Online Chevy for Childress.

Although these represent substantial changes, there are still several more to come. Stay tuned . . .

Transporter Driver Gets Thanksgiving Break

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Many NASCAR Winston Cup drivers were upset about having to spend the Thanksgiving holiday preparing for the New Hampshire race – an event rescheduled due to the events of Sept. 11. However, the two transporter drivers for Mark Martin’s Ford team made the best of the situation.

The team’s co-driver, Jeff Gonynor, offered to drive the rig to New Hampshire so that Tom McCrimmon, the team’s lead driver, could stay home with his family for Thanksgiving and fly with the team to New Hampshire Thursday evening.

The plan worked out perfectly for both truckers. Gonynor, a native of Fitchburg, Mass., arrived in New Hampshire the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and spent the holiday with his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Leominster, Mass., which is 80 miles from the Loudon, N.H. track.

McCrimmon stayed home with his wife and three children until the team flew out from Charlotte, N.C., on Thanksgiving. It marked the first time in his career McCrimmon had ever flown to a Winston Cup race.

“I wanted to give Tom a break since he’s driven to every race and six tests, and by doing this I could see my daughter and her family,” Gonynor said.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my wife in North Carolina either way, so we made the best of a bad situation.”

Said McCrimmon, “We’re normally home for Thanksgiving, but this year was a little messed up for everyone. I’m just thankful for having such a nice co-driver.”

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