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.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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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