2004 "99" Schedule 

Racer brings name fans recognize
 

By Bill Poindexter
Record Staff Writer
Published Friday, August 13, 2004

STOCKTON -- Earnhardt.
It's as recognizable a name as there is in motor sports, and it will be announced often Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway, probably to loud cheers.

Kerry Earnhardt, son of the late seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt and brother of current superstar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., is coming to town.

Earnhardt,34, joined Bill McAnally Racing last month and will compete in the NASCAR Grand National West Series for the rest of the season. He'll test from 1-8 p.m. today at Stockton 99 -- there's no admission -- and drive in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 on Saturday.

"As a veteran promoter, I still like to put a feather in my cap once in a while," Stockton 99 co-owner Ken Clapp said Wednesday. "His father and I were pretty good friends. We went to Japan together. His family means something to me personally. To have an Earnhardt here, no other track in the valley has ever had an Earnhardt, and no track in the valley probably ever will."

It isn't quite the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit, but Earnhardt still is enjoying himself.

"It's a lot of fun. It's more laid-back in the West Series than the Busch," Earnhardt said Wednesday from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. "We just go race and have fun. You don't have to run around everywhere."

Earnhardt spent the first part of this week running around before flying to the West Coast on Wednesday. He filmed a TV commercial in Arkansas and held an autograph session Monday, traveled to Michigan and tested at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday and spent Wednesday morning packing for the trip.

Yes, Earnhardt is popular; and yes, he's cool with it.

"Popularity comes along with it. I've gained a lot of popularity though the name and racing," he said. "It's always exciting to sit at autograph sessions and listen to fans talk about things they've done racing and at a race. It's exciting to hear they've met Richard Petty or Dad. It's special to everyone that they have that one memory."

Earnhardt surely will hear more stories and create more memories this weekend at 99, which usually holds autograph sessions before its Grand National West and Southwest Series events. Earnhardt is the latest big-name driver to compete at 99, following in the tire tracks of David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ernie Irvan, Billy Vukovich, Johnny Parsons, Parnelli Jones and Rodger Ward, to name several. Clapp said the track has handled double the typical amount of phone calls.

"We have seen a lot of fan response knowing he's in the series," said Kevin Green, media coordinator for Grand National West. "The series as you look at it has always generated a lot of excitement, but to have a name like that come into the series just adds frosting on the cake. He's been great to come in and compete. He's having a good time, and the racers are racing hard against him. You talk about tradition. Look in the record book and find his dad won a race in the series."

Now, the son is looking for a victory. Earnhardt's arrival came as the result of conversations between McAnally, who's based in Rocklin, and well-known Nextel Cup team owner Richard Childress.

"He said, 'We have a seven-race Cup deal, and he's giving me a hard time about it,' " McAnally said of conversations Childress had with Earnhardt. "I said, 'Send him out, and we'll give him some laps.' He did great. We'll keep him in the 20 car for the rest of the season."

Earnhardt said the main thing to gain from his stint out West is seat time. It's already paying off.

"It's helping me learn patience," he said. "On short tracks, you have to have patience to keep all the fenders on the car and not tear it up. We don't get the chance to race short tracks in Nextel Cup or Busch. It's easy to knock people out of the way, but when you race them clean and pass them, you accomplish a lot more."

Earnhardt finished fourth in his West debut on July 17 in Monroe, Wash., and followed with a seventh-place finish two weeks ago in Irwindale. Now, he'll take on the tricky quarter-mile paved oval at Stockton 99.

"I've heard it's a lot of fun," said Earnhardt, who will see the track for the first time today. "Hopefully, we'll get a lot of laps on the track. I can't remember a quarter-mile; maybe a three-eighths mile."

"He is certainly a guy who could win, and he could finish 10th," Clapp said. "You know how short-track racing is."

Earnhardt, who's married with three children, is in the West series to learn, but he's also having fun. So are those around him, from the fans to his new teammates.

"He's an outstanding person. He's a lot of fun to be around," McAnally said. "He grabs wrenches and gets in there with the guys. He doesn't take things too awful serious, but once he gets in the car, he gets serious."

Now, all the fans have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy.

"I'm proud I can give the people who come to Stockton 99 Speedway an Earnhardt, because a lot of those people won't get another chance to see one," Clapp said. "I want them to say, 'Remember that night we went out and saw Kerry Earnhardt?' "


* To reach assistant sports editor Bill Poindexter, phone (209) 546-8289 or e-mail bpoindex@recordnet.com

Kerry Earnhardt to Drive for BMR

In NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series

 

Rocklin, CA- Kerry Earnhardt will drive the remainder of this season for Bill McAnally Racing in the NASCAR Grand National Division West Series, the team announced today

 

          In making the announcement, BMR president Bill McAnally said his organization will once again field two full-time teams in the series. Earnhardt of Kannapolis, NC, will join BMR as a teammate to series veteran Austin Cameron. Earnhardt is scheduled to make his West Series debut at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. on Saturday, July 17. That would mean Kerry would drive at Stockton 99 Speedway, August 14, 2004!

 

          We are thrilled to have Kerry join the BMR team, McAnally said. With his experience, he will have a lot to contribute to our program. We look forward to this opportunity to make our two-car team effort even stronger in the NASCAR Grand National West Series. BMR has been working in association with Richard Childress Racing. RCR has brought their state-of-the-art race technology and engineering to the team. This strengthens BMRs relationship with RCR and we look forward to a continued successful partnership.

 

          Earnhardt has raced for Richard Childress Racing in selected NASCAR Nextel Cup Series events, most recently finishing 28th in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3rd. He has also competed in 65 events in the NASCAR Busch Series between 1998 and 2003.  In addition, his resume includes victories in ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America), where he won three of five races in 2001.

 

          Im really excited and looking forward to racing in the NASCAR Grand National West Series, said Earnhardt. Its a great series. Im really happy about being a part of a high caliber race team like BMR. Its a top notch organization. Im looking forward to much success with the team.

 

          Earnhardt, 34 is the son of the late Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time champion in NASCARs premier division. Dale Earnhardt is included on the list of career winners in the West Series, winning a road course race in Kent, Wash., in 1985.

 

          McAnally is a veteran team owner in the NASCAR Grand National Division West Series with three consecutive series championships (1999, 2000, and 2001) to his credit and most recently won the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown held November of 2003. This season also marks the 14th year BMR has been in partnership with NAPA AUTO PARTS. In addition to its primary sponsorship on the #16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, NAPA will be involved with Earnharts entries.

 

          BMR is located in Northern California. Housing state-of-the-art technology and a stable of race cars, BMR is able to handle all aspects of race car preparation. An expansion project, including a larger race shop and a race show room, is due for completion in 2005.

 

          The West Series, which along with the Busch North Series comprise the Grand National Division, is the oldest stock car circuit in the west. Graduates of the series include Kevin Harvick, Ron Hornaday and Brendan Gaughan, who won back to back titles in 2000 and 2001 with team owner, Bill McAnally.    


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