NASCAR changes 2.13

Written by David Green.

I don’t know if Dale Earnhardt, Jr., likes to play dominoes, but he set off one giant game when he decided to drive for Rick Hendrick in 2008. That one move caused a chain reaction of driver relocations.

Earnhardt is set to drive a Mountain Dew AMP/Army National Guard-sponsored Chevrolet, now #88. The car is the former #25, previously driven by Casey Mears.

Mears now moves to Hendrick’s #5 Kellogg’s/Carquest Chevy, formerly driven by Kyle Busch. Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon aren’t going anywhere, so Busch had to leave for Joe Gibbs Racing, knocking J.J. Yeley out of a job.

Busch’s teammates will now be Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, and all three will switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for 2008. Interstate Batteries, main sponsor of Gibbs’ #18 car since he formed the team in 1992, now cuts back to a six-race sponsorship of Busch. M & M’s will sponsor Busch for 24 races with Snickers, Combos and Pedigree Dog Food sharing the other six races.

Meanwhile, J.J. Yeley moved to Hall of Fame Racing, displacing Tony Raines. The team has a loose partnership with the Gibbs team and will also make the switch to Toyota with them. Yeley’s car will retain the #96 and Texas Instruments DLP sponsorship it had under Raines’ tenure. At this writing, Raines is the last domino in the chain, not yet making any deals for 2008.

A game perhaps more like chess is going on at Michael Waltrip Racing. Dale Jarrett plans to run the first five races of 2008, then retire and turn the wheel over to David Reutimann. Reutimann will drive the first five races in his familiar #00 before taking the reins of Jarrett’s #44 UPS Toyota. Reutimann’s #00 is scheduled to be turned over to rookie candidate Michael McDowell starting with race six...

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
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    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
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    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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