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.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    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.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.

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