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RACING ONE: Hendrick retires, Harvick back in Busch

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CONCORD, N.C.

This is a tale of one driver who has realized it's time to get out - even at the age of 22. Ricky Hendrick, son of Winston Cup Series team owner Rick Hendrick, announced Thursday that, because of the lingering effects of a shoulder injury he suffered at Las Vegas in March, he is retiring from racing. He'll relinquish his seat in the No. 5 GMAC Busch Series Chevy immediately. will take over for the remainder of the year. "This was an incredibly hard decision to make," said Hendrick, who underwent extensive shoulder surgery following a severe crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I have an obligation to give my sponsors and my team the best possible chance at success on the race track and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not able to deliver that. "After a lot of soul searching, I've decided to step away from the driver's seat to pursue other opportunities within Hendrick Motorsports. I love this team and I love this sport, but I'm not able to perform at a level that I'm comfortable with." Hendrick will continue to work with Team GMAC. Rick Hendrick said he feels good about the decision his son has made. "I can't tell you how proud I am of Ricky," said Rick Hendrick, Ricky's father and owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He wants to give his team and his sponsors the tools to be successful, and when he realized that he wasn't physically able to do that, he showed a lot of character by making a tough choice. "With his experience in so many areas of Hendrick Motorsports, from race cars to sponsorship, Ricky will be a valuable contributor to the future growth and success of our company."

Harvick extends Busch participation

is returning to the NASCAR Busch Series on a larger scale ¿ and he¿s ecstatic about it. The 2001 Busch Series champion, who ran only a limited amount of Busch Series events this year, will participate in 15 races of the 34 races in 2003, with PayDay candy bars as the sponsor of his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. Johnny Sauter, who raced for Busch Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 in RCR¿s No. 2 AC/Delco Chevy, will drive the 19 remaining races next season in the No. 21 Chevy. It has yet to be announced by AC/Delco, but is expected to take over the seat of the No. 2 Chevy next season. Harvick was supposed to drive 18 to 20 Busch Series races this year, but RCR decided to run Sauter full-time. has split time with in the No. 21 Chevy this year. ¿We¿re really excited about our involvement with Hershey¿s and PayDay and their involvement in the No. 21 Busch car,¿ Childress said. ¿For next year, we went back to original plan, and that was for Kevin to run a lot of races this year. We¿ve put together a great program, and we¿re looking forward to possibly winning an owner¿s championship next year.¿ Harvick will continue to drive the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevy in the Winston Cup Series, in addition to his Busch Series duties. ¿I¿m really excited about getting back into the Busch Series,¿ Harvick said. ¿We¿re going to have the predominant sponsor in the series, and we¿re going to have a strong program. We look forward to making a payday out of every weekend.¿ Sauter has won a race this year and has three top-five finishes in 27 starts this season after winning the ASA championship in 2001. Taking a step backward, Sauter said, is perhaps the best thing for him next year. ¿This season, I tried to run for rookie of year, and felt like maybe I made the step too soon,¿ Sauter said. ¿I¿m going to take a step back and try to get an education to make me a better racecar driver. I¿m really going to enjoy working with Kevin and Ron (Hornaday) next year.¿

Martin is 15 racing-related death at Lowe's

ARCA Series driver Eric Martin, who died in a practice accident Wednesday afternoon, is the 15th racing-related death at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway since its inception in 1960. ¿Fireball¿ Roberts was the first to die in a racing-related accident at LMS, in 1964, from complications of burns suffered in a backstretch crash during the World 600. Previous to Martin¿s death, , another ARCA driver, died last year after suffering fatal injuries during the ARCA race in October. In all, a total of eight stock car drivers have died at LMS since 1964, three spectators, two mechanics, one driving school participant and one motorcycle rider. Martin¿s funeral will be held at Bradley Funeral Home on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Marion, Va. The viewing will be at Bradley from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday. Deborah Renshaw, the other driver involved in the accident Wednesday, is still being held at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She suffered a concussion and some broken bones.

Contreras signs with Hispanic team

Carlos Contreras, a veteran of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Petty Enterprises, has signed a deal to drive a full schedule of races for the Hispanic Racing Team (HRT Motorsports) for two seasons in the Busch Series, beginning in 2003 The car has yet to sign a sponsor. A native of Mexico, Contreras was a natural fit for HRT. ¿Given Carlos¿ Mexican heritage, his appeal is strong with the Mexican-American population, which accounts for more than 65 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population,¿ said Mike Vazquez, vice president of HRT. He also comes with valuable NASCAR experience and race experience on most of NASCAR¿s tracks.¿ HRT Motorsports, the first and only Hispanic-owned, -sponsored and ¿driven team in NASCAR, will expand to a two car team with the addition of Contreras. The team is currently running a limited Busch Series schedule this year for the No. 09 CICLON Energy Drink entry. Former Busch Series champion and open wheel veteran Roberto Guerrero have been sharing driving duties thus far this season. Green took the No. 09 CICLON entry to 14th and 19th place finishes at Charlotte and Chicago, respectively. Guerrero is slated to take over driving duties of the CICLON Racing entry at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 26. Contreras and the No. 41 team are scheduled to run next season¿s full 34-race schedule. HRT also plans to field a car for Contreras at the NASCAR Winston Cup Series events at Watkins Glen and Sears Point, both road courses.

New sponsor for Setzer

Makita USA, a leading manufacturer of over 320 professional, industrial quality power tools, has signed to become the primary sponsor of Dennis Setzer¿s No. 46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevy for the remainder of the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. Makita will make its first appearance on the truck this weekend in the Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ¿I could not prouder to represent a company like Makita,¿ Setzer said. ¿Makita is a leader in their industry and we will return the favor by leading them into victory lane before the 2002 season is complete,¿ said driver, Dennis Setzer. ¿Makita's new MFORCE¿ Cordless Drill Series is the most powerful and durable drill that we have used. They are designed to deliver maximum performance and that is what we intend to do on the racetrack¿. Setzer and the Morgan-Dollar team, coming off a second-place finish at South Boston (Va.) Speedway three weeks ago, are still in the hunt for the Craftsman Truck Series championship.

Benson-UK Basketball hook up

The new anniversary logo marking the 100th season of Kentucky basketball will adorn ¿s Valvoline-sponsored Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup race in Atlanta on Oct. 27. The Lexington-based automotive products company and UK today announced the logo will appear on the hood of Benson¿s car during the Oct. 27 NAPA 500 race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. ¿Valvoline has been a great corporate citizen of Kentucky and has been an innovative marketer for many years and now has offered to pay tribute to our championship tradition in basketball,¿ said Mitch Barnhart, UK Athletics Director. ¿It¿s a merger of two championship programs in one of America¿s hottest sports. I¿m sure the greatest fans in college basketball will be cheering for Johnny and the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac that day.¿

McReynolds book released

NASCAR commentator and former Winston Cup Series crew chief Larry McReynolds has teamed with award-winning author Bob Zeller to produce the book, ¿The Big Picture.¿ In the book, McReynolds shares his dramatic experiences as a crew chief and as a FOX commentator, as only McReynolds can tell them. McReynolds and Zeller were on hand at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway to introduce the book Thursday afternoon to the media. The two will sign copies of their book at the Action Pit Stop, located across from the speedway, on Friday, Oct. 10, from 3 to 4 p.m. Action¿s address is 60301 N. Performance Drive SW, Concord, N.C., 28027. ¿The Big Picture¿ retails for $24.95 and can be purchased at all major bookstores.

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