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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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