Originally created 06/20/02

No. 21 team weighs options



SONOMA, Calif. - With Elliott Sadler headed to a new team in 2003 and the No. 21 Ford enjoying a resurgence, Wood Brothers Racing has the luxury of being selective on who will drive their car.

The list of potential drivers has been trimmed to four, according to team owner Eddie Wood. The four are Bobby Hamilton, Mike Wallace, Johnny Benson and Jerry Nadeau, according to Turner Sports Interactive.

Wood said he might also add a name or two from the NASCAR Busch Series.

"This deal changes every day, and who knows, by nightfall this whole list could be drastically changed," Wood said.

Hamilton is expected to leave Andy Petree Racing at the end of the season, especially because Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is expected to buy an interest in the team and demand the hiring of a high-profile driver.

Benson has long been rumored to leave MBV Motorsports, especially because he's been unable to win with the team since Nelson Bowers took control 63 races ago.

Wallace and Nadeau are unemployed.

Sadler's future remains a mystery. Ricky Rudd said the 27-year-old driver from Emporia, Va., already has agreed to drive the No. 28 Ford for Robert Yates Racing. Both Sadler and Yates deny any deal has been reached.

Another viable option is at Dale Earnhardt Inc. That company has admitted to talking with Sadler. And because Sadler and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are close friends, it would be a nice fit for both.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, GREEN FLAG: Britney Spears and NASCAR have agreed to develop and produce a dramatic film about stock car racing.

Spears is scheduled to play a woman who inspires a former Winston Cup Series driver to return to the fast lane.

The project is in the preliminary writing and development stage. The story is being written by Jim Hart, whose works include Contact and Hook.

"One of NASCAR's objectives is to grow our sport by developing entertainment projects that introduce NASCAR drivers, teams, tracks and their sponsors to an ever-growing audience," said Paul Brooks, NASCAR's vice president of broadcasting.

NO KENTUCKY HOME: The Kentucky Speedway, a sparkling raceway near Cincinnati, won't get a Winston Cup Series date in 2003 as hoped.

Although the 1 1/2 -mile raceway has attracted some of the biggest crowds on the NASCAR Busch Series since it opened three years ago, NASCAR officials said the 38-race schedule that includes 36 official races and two all-star events, leaves little room for additional races.

"We think we deserve better than what we're getting," said Jerry Carroll, one of the owners at Kentucky.

Carroll said he plans to "shake it up" to force NASCAR to consider his raceway in the future. One of his ideas is to offer an all-star weekend for both the Busch and Winston Cup series.

NASCAR said Kentucky's proximity to other Winston Cup circuits at Indianapolis; Talladega, Ala.; and Bristol, Tenn., also is a problem. But Carroll counters with the fact that Indy is sold out, and Talladega and Bristol are both more than 400 miles away.

What adds credence to Carroll's argument is that NASCAR has eight races clustered in a 150-mile radius of Charlotte, N.C.

PIT STOPS: A new head-and-neck-restraint system is on the market, but so far it hasn't been approved for use in NASCAR. The White Head Restraint System was successfully tested by Dr. John Melvin at Wayne State University in Detroit. Melvin was one of the scientists who participated in the investigation into Dale Earnhardt's death. The tests, according to Speedway Safety Equipment, show a 25 percent improvement over the Hutchens Device, which is allowed in NASCAR.... NASCAR president Bill France Jr. said he favors the loss of points instead of fines for some rules infractions. Points, he said, is a better way to get a race team's attention. ... Speaking of rules infractions, Terry Labonte's crew chief, Jim Long, was fined $20,000 and placed on probation until the end of the year for pumping air into the gas tank with hopes of making it expand before Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.