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|■ One of the funniest stories of the year struck here yesterday when it came out that Washington Congressional staffers for the House committee on Homeland Security had been told to get vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and influenza before heading down to Talladega for last weekend's race and up to Concorde for this weekend's race. The staffers are to study potential health issues at such mass events.|
Yes NASCAR may have its rabid fans, but Charlotte promoter Humpy Wheeler, when he finally stopped laughing, said that Washington’s call was “like taping your ankles to go to the mailbox.”
And Wheeler, easily NASCAR’s best and most innovative promoter (who called once again on car-eating, flame-throwing Robosaurus for last night’s pre-race show), denies the Washington move was any public-relations stunt. Wheeler was a bit upset at the issue, pointing out that NASCAR country “is not some third-world or fourth-world country.
“Never in the 50-plus years of NASCAR has there been an outbreak of any kind, other than a few headaches because somebody’s favorite driver ran out of gas…. or maybe a morning hangover.
“Good Lord….. the last thing we need is some poor guy down in Bessemer City saying ‘Oh, I was going to go to that race, but I heard about that hepatitis and I don’t know what it is but I don’t want any of it.’
“Now I’m afraid to talk to those (Washington) people … afraid I might get the shingles or some other disease they haven’t had a shot for.”
Jeff Gordon did a double take when told about the issue: “I probably shake about as many hands as the president does throughout the year, and I’ve never really considered that one as an option. So maybe I need to now.
“But there is certainly plenty of merit to building up your immune system. I’ve been one for years that used to get sick a lot. So I went to a nutritionist, and now I take supplements, and I eat better things, and I don’t get sick anymore. So maybe that could be an option as well.”
■ Dale Jarrett delayed his announcement about his 2008 plans until today, and it is expected he will announce a limited schedule of Cup races. Jarrett and Jeremy Mayfield could be sharing a Toyota ride with car owner Michael Waltrip. Mayfield, whose career has been on the skids lately, is leaving the Bill Davis team at the end of the season, with newcomer Jacques Villeneuve expected to get that ride.
■ Ricky Rudd was back in a car yesterday for the first time since his bad crash at California six weeks ago, which left him with an injured shoulder. He qualified 33rd for the race.
■ George Gillett, one of NASCAR’s newest team owners, in partnership with Ray Evernham, hasn’t been shy about jumping into the stock car world, and he’s adding a new driver to his new team’s mix, Canadian Indy-car racer Patrick Carpentier, taking Scott Riggs’ ride next season.
Carpentier has three stock events under his belt, on road courses. He finished 22nd at Watkins Glen in August in his only Cup run. But he won the Busch pole at Montreal and finished second.
How NASCAR officials might handle Carpentier is unclear, because typically a newcomer has to work his way up from short tracks to intermediate tracks to speedways.
■ Kirk Shelmerdine, the one-time star NASCAR crew chief, turned part-time Cup tour driver, is making a rare appearance here this weekend, but it was brief, when he failed to make the qualifying cut for Saturday’s race.
Next on Shelmerdine’s agenda: a 20-day vacation from Casablanca to Cairo to Lebanon and Greece, with some diving in the Red Sea.
Perhaps they saw 1GUNRUNNER at a NASCAR event and decided to be cautious....
“Real heroes give their lives for their country. I don't like to be called a hero. I just did what I was trained to do.” MSG Roy P. Benavidez
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