NASCAR

Gasman "Chocolate" Myers to retire after Homestead

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Danny "Chocolate" Myers, a familiar sight in the Richard Childress Racing pits at Winston Cup races, will retire after 17 years as a gasman following Sunday's Miami 400. Myers, 54, is the eldest son of NASCAR pioneer Bobby Myers, who was killed while driving in the 1957 Southern 500. He has been with the Childress team since 1983 and was a member of the "Flying Aces," the pit crew that helped the late Dale Earnhardt to six of his seven championships. Since Earnhardt's death in the 2001 Daytona 500, Myers has worked as gasman for 's No. 29 Chevrolet and, since June, 's No 31 Monte Carlo since. "I've had the time of my life on the pit crew all these years at RCR, but it's time to step down," Myers said. "I'm trying to do what is best for RCR. I'm still physically able to gas the car and would love to do so, but it's time to let some new guys have the chance. The bearlike, bearded Myers has become one of the most recognizable crewmen in NASCAR and is often asked by fans for his autograph. "When Richard first hired me, he said, 'I can't promise to make you rich but I will make you famous.' But how could you be around Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt for so many years and not be recognizable? "But that's not what this has been about for me. It's about the love of the sport and the people involved." Myers will remain at RCR as the director of safety, responsible for ensuring the team meets state and federal safety regulations. He will also assist with the RCR museum and gift store at the team's race shop in Welcome, N.C., as well as working on special projects and continuing to make appearances for the team's sponsors.

Going home

Michel Jourdain Jr. is trying very hard to prepare for Sunday's inaugural CART race in his hometown, Mexico City, without losing his cool. "Last week I was up at 6 in the morning and going to midnight every day. I tried to do the busiest (things) the earliest as possible," said Jourdain, who has scored points in 17 of 18 races this season but is still looking for his first CART victory. "I'll have to think I'm in Australia, Long Beach, somewhere else, not to think I am in Mexico City," the first-year Team Rahal driver added. He had a similar problem in the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, in March. "If you try to listen to the people, what they are saying, when they come and see you, all that, it would be impossible to stay focused," he said. Winning Sunday's season finale at the redesigned and refurbished Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in front of an expected crowd of more than 300,000 people would be a huge accomplishment for Jourdain. "Well, obviously it's something I think a lot about," he said. "If I win this race, it's something that would change my life forever. It would be like an American winning the Indianapolis 500. "This is going to be probably the biggest sporting event in the history of Mexico, the amount of people we're going to have here. The biggest soccer stadium holds like 120,000 people. There's going to be a lot more people here on Sunday." Michel Jourdain Sr., who drove in the two previous CART races in Mexico, in 1980 and 1981, said, "This is a racetrack with a lot of history, where the very famous Ricardo Rodriguez died. This is something very special for the Mexicans. This track, this event, with three Mexicans racing in this series, all this makes it very, very special." National hero Adrian Fernandez and rookie Mario Dominguez are also regulars in the Champ Car series. Fernandez, who missed the race in Fontana, Calif., two weeks ago because of two broken vertebrae in his neck, is hoping to run this weekend. If he can't, Luis Diaz, another Mexican driver, will make his CART debut in Fernandez's car.

Record Force

John Force just keeps rolling along. The 53-year-old drag racing star ended his season Sunday in Pomona, Calif., by earning the 106th victory of his career as he wrapped up an unprecedented 10th straight Funny Car championship and record 12th overall. To get it done, he had to beat teammate and employee Tony Pedregon in the semifinal round, which turned out to be the best race of the day. "As an owner, my focus got a little bit lost," Force said. "All Tony was thinking about was smacking me and taking the title. Tony was up for the win. We talked just before we raced. "I got after it and did my job. Tony could also have been sitting here as the champ, and I'd still be the winning car owner." As a little bonus, when Force qualified in Pomona, it was the 300th straight time he has made it past the qualifying round. If he keeps it up next season, Force will break Pro Stock great Warren Johnson's record of 303. It wasn't a particularly happy goodbye for longtime star Kenny Bernstein, 58, who retired as a driver after his Top Fuel car failed to get past the first round. The only National Hot Rod Association driver to win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car will continue in the sport as an owner, fielding a Top Fuel dragster for his son, Brandon.

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