DANVILLE, Va. — A pioneering driver in American race-car driving will be honored in April with the dedication of a historical marker in his native Danville.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has scheduled the dedication in honor of Wendell O. Scott for April 5. Fifty years ago, Scott became the first African-American to win a race in what is now called the NASCAR Sprint Series Cup.
In honor of the dedication, Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders will declare April 5 Wendell O. Scott Day.
Officials say speakers will include NASCAR president Mike Helton.
ON THE REBOUND: Lost in all the sparks, smoke and shoving match between Joey Logano and Tony Stewart after the final lap of last Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., was the continued resurrection of Kurt Busch’s racing career and rapid improvement of Furniture Row Racing.
Busch finished fifth in the race for his second top-five finish in a row. He’s 13th in the Sprint Cup Series standings heading into the bye week, just eight points from the top 10.
While Regan Smith drove the team to victory in 2010 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Busch is the first driver in team history to post consecutive top-five finishes.
Busch, who had tumultuous relationships with former employers Jack Roush and Roger Penske, has quietly helped the No. 78 Chevrolet get up to speed. Team owner Barney Visser buys engines and cars from Richard Childress, but Busch said his team puts their own finishing touches on the car.
“Joe Garone, the general manager, he’s the most hands-on GM I’ve ever met, more so than Penske Racing, Roush Racing,” Busch said. “And the way that he operates, he’s in charge of all departments. And he stays with his thumb on top of it. So Joe Garone deserves a lot of credit.
“Barney Visser has supplied us with the funds to do so. We’re teamed up with Childress that gives us motors, it gives us chassis. But then it’s up to the crew guys to find little things every week when we’re bolting cars together.”
Another positive thing for Busch has been his quiet approach. Unlike other seasons, he’s kept a low profile and avoided controversy.
FAA CUTS WON’T GROUND TEAMS: NASCAR teams believe they will still fly in and out of Concord (N.C.) Regional Airport although the Federal Aviation Administration announced last week it was losing funding for its control tower.
Concord is the hub for the majority of NASCAR teams. Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing all keep their fleet of airplanes at the airport that’s located 20 miles north of downtown Charlotte, N.C. Several charter services also operate out of Concord to shuttle hundreds of crewmen to races each weekend.
The FAA said it was forced to cut $637 million from its budget as the result of sequestration.
Concord was one of 149 regional airports that will lose federal funding to operate traffic control towers.
Hendrick Motorsports spokesman Jesse Essex said his team still will fly out of Concord once the controllers are removed April 7. Pilots will be responsible for coordinating their own takeoffs and landings over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers.
Once an airplane takes off from Concord, they will work with the tower Charlotte Douglas International Airport. That will increase Charlotte’s workload and result in likely delays, Concord said Aviation Director Rick Cloutier.
PIT STOPS: Television ratings continue to climb for the Sprint Cup Series. Last Sunday’s race at Fontana, Calif., was up nearly 32 percent compared to last year’s race, Nielsen Media Research said. It marked the fourth time in five races this year where ratings have increased … Danica Patrick won a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award as the favorite female athlete. She beat tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. It’s the third time Patrick’s won the award.