Old boys hanging on in NASCAR

Well, I for one was delighted at Terry Labonte's victory at Darlington last Sunday.

Way to score one for us old guys, Terry! Unfortunately, we may not have many more opportunities to witness wins by NASCAR's old guard because they are rapidly being replaced by a new crop of youngsters. The latest change was announced last week, with Joe Nemechek (who turns a ripe old 40 this month) losing his ride in the Hendrick Racing No. 25 car for 2004 to Brian Vickers. The 20-year-old Vickers has been tearing up the Busch Series, winning two races in the past month in the No. 5 Hendrick car.

And who will replace Vickers in Busch for Hendrick next season? None other than Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch's younger brother Kyle, who finished second to Vickers last weekend, giving Hendrick a 1-2 result. Busch will still be 18 when the 2004 NASCAR season starts. So savor any victory that Labonte, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty, and the other veterans can score. They appear to be a dying breed.

Ralf Schumacher was injured during Formula 1 testing at Monza last week when a rear suspension part on his Williams apparently failed. The car reportedly flipped several times in a 150 mph corner but was not a total write-off. Aside from a slight concussion there were no major injuries and Ralf is expected to be back in the car for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend. Marc Gene took over testing duties in a spare car.

Alex Barron is well on his way to winning the "Super Sub of 2003" title in the Indy Racing League. Barron will drive for his third team this season in the Delphi Indy 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway today. After replacing Gil de Ferran at Penske for the Japan race, Barron has been sitting in for the injured Felipe Giaffone at Mo Nunn Racing.

Giaffone is back this weekend, just in time to free Barron up to replace Buddy Rice in the Red Bull Cheever Racing No. 52 car. Rice has not been released by the team but team owner Eddie Cheever characterized the move as "a positive step solely designed to get results. If I were Rice, I'd be keeping my ear to the ground for another ride. Another veteran returning to IRL action is Richie Hearn, who will drive the No. 2 Menards Dallara/Chevy. Hearn reportedly liked the Chevy Gen IV power.

As you read next week's column, I'll be in sunny Monterey, Calif., at Laguna Seca Raceway for the 11th annual Cherry's Jubilee car show. It's not as big as Hot August Nights but it's a special show. I've been one of the announcers for the show since it started and it's probably the most fun event I do all year. I've run across a number of folks from Northern Nevada at the show over the years, and it's always fun to let them know that the announcer team for this California event is comprised of a couple of Nevada guys, myself and Johnny Starr, the official Hot August Nights DJ.

If you have a show car, I highly recommend that you check out Cherry's Jubilee next year. You'll get to cruise Cannery Row, take parade laps on the track at Laguna Seca, and ride shotgun in a racing Porsche at high speeds on the famous track. Even if you don't have a show car, what could be better than a weekend in Monterey in September?

Mark your calendars for Sept. 27. Thunder Bowl Speedway and Super Outlaw Karts of Nevada are sponsoring a charity race for the benefit of Outlaw Kart racer Ron Williams. Williams is battling cancer and the Outlaw Kart racing family has rallied around to help him beat the disease. All proceeds from the race will be donated to a special fund to help Williams with medical expenses. There will also be a drawing with some terrific prizes -- dinners at fine local restaurants, a new bicycle, and more will be given away to lucky drawing winners. Watch this space for more details in the coming weeks.

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.

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