Richard Petty’s No.43 Pontiac Grand Prix used during his 200th NASCAR Cup series victory has been named one of the “101 Objects That Made America” by Smithsonian Magazine and is featured in its November issue.
The Smithsonian sourced more than 137 million artifacts in 19 museums to come up with its list, which includes the bald eagle, Discovery Space Shuttle, the Model T, the Barbie doll and a U.S. Olympic hockey team jersey.
“I just think the fact that it’s the Smithsonian and they had all these pieces of history or objects to look at and they picked our car is what makes it special,” Petty said.
Writer Jeff MacGregor points out that the “genius of this car lies not in what it is, but in what it did.”
Petty’s 1984 victory in Daytona Beach, Fla., was accomplished with then-President Ronald Reagan in attendance.
To find the complete list or read more, visit Smithsonian.com.
RCR hires technical director: Richard Childress Racing announced Saturday it has hired Mike Coughlan as the team’s technical director, effective immediately. Coughlan, a native of Surrey, England, brings more than two decades of motorsports experience, with a heavy concentration in Formula One.
During his 15 years in F-1, Coughlan was a chief designer with teams such as Arrows, Benetton, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams; earning more than 20 victories. Coughlan also has NASCAR experience, having worked with Michael Waltrip Racing during late 2010 and early 2011.
“I feel with the increased technical focus of the Sprint Cup Series and the direction that the sport is moving, it makes a perfect fit for me,” Coughlan said.
Hornaday released : Truck Series veteran Ron Hornaday was released by NTS Motorsports after Friday night’s race at Phoenix.
“We at NTS Motorsports appreciate everything Ron has done this year to help build NTS Motorsports in its first year competing at the national level in NASCAR,” said team owner Bob Newberry. “Ron has been a great asset to our organization and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Practice update: Clint Bowyer was fastest during Saturday’s final practice, with a top lap speed at 134.862mph. Jeff Gordon was second-fastest and Kurt Busch third. Among the championship contenders, Matt Kenseth was fifth-fastest, Kevin Harvick was eighth and Jimmie Johnson 10th.
Three things to watch
1. Jimmie Johnson enters the final two races with a seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth and will start from the pole.
2. Jeff Burton will make his 1,000 start in NASCAR’s three national series. His first start came during 1988 in what now is the Nationwide Series.
3. Kevin Harvick won this race a year ago and is the only other driver in the Cup series with a plausible chance to catch Johnson and Kenseth.
• Kyle Busch gets all the criticism for racing and winning in the NASCAR Truck Series, but none of the credit for what he gives back to the series. While many complain of Busch racking upvictories in a lower NASCAR series, they too easily forget that the past two newcomers to Victory Lane – Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace Jr. – got their opportunity to race because of Kyle Busch Motorsports. Could Jones and Wallace have found other opportunities? Perhaps. Would they be with as good a program? Unlikely, since Busch already has proven his organization is among the best in the series.
• By next season, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte no longer will be competing fulltime in the Sprint Cup Series. That’s a far cry from 15 years ago when I first started covering NASCAR and those three were regulars up front and in Victory Lane. At the time, I was certain I would see all three win Cup titles, but as it turns out, Labonte was the only one. The absence of a championship certainly does not diminish the contributions to the sport of the others.
• The scoring pylon has not worked properly at Phoenix since the race weekend began. It only shows the laps completed and the top eight places. I couldn’t imagine a sporting event where an operable scoreboard was more important to a fan’s experience.
Three picks for your fantasy racing team:
Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth