this week in nascar

by Monte Dutton

this week in nascar

Around the Garage: Epidemic claims life of NASCAR crewman

A familiar pit-crew member, DJ Richardson, died on Dec. 25 from complications of the H1N1 “swine flu” virus.

Richardson, 37, died in a Massachusetts hospital. He was a native of Leominster, Mass. He contracted the H1N1 virus during the Thanksgiving holiday. Rich- by Monte Dutton ardson was admitted to Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster after being diagnosed as suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

A rear-tire changer on Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet, Richardson had been a NASCAR crewman for 10 years. In addition to Richard Childress Racing, he also spent time at Andy Petree Racing, Penske Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Braun Racing.

“All of us at RCR are saddened by DJ’s passing,” said Richard Childress. “DJ was a gifted tire changer, one of the greatest team players in the business and a valued member of the RCR family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

KESELOWSKI’S KREW — Penske Racing has hired Jay Guy and Paul Wolfe to serve as crew chiefs for Brad Keselowski’s programs in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.

Roy McCauley, previously crew chief for Penske’s No. 12 Dodge (driven in 2009 by David Stremme), will be moved to a new post within the organization.

Guy will head up the Cup team, while Wolfe, himself a former driver, will head the No. 22 Dodge fielded by Penske for Keselowski in the Nationwide Series.

Guy was crew chief at Furniture Racing with driver Regan Smith last season.

The 36-year-old is a native of Lancaster, Pa.

ADVENTURES ABROAD — Four-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz won a Dec. 28 race, the Valvoline Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix, at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway in Sydney, Australia.

Another familiar American, two-time Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart, inished seventh after starting on the back row in the main event.

“I think to inish seventh from the tail [of the starting ield] was okay,” said Stewart. “It was a good irst night for me, obviously not as good as my teammate (Schatz), who won the race, but he runs 100 races a year and I get to run three.”

Another American, Tim Shaffer, inished third.

WHO ELSE? — Jimmie Johnson, already named Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, also earned the Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year award from the Eastern Motorsports Press Association.

The EMPA also named Ted Christopher its Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year. Scheduled for induction into the EMPA Hall of Fame in January are Freddy Adam, Steve Smith, Lou Blaney and Norm Patrick.

The longtime public-relations director at Pocono Raceway, Bob Pleban, earned the Art McHugh Memorial for service to the EMPA.

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He

was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008.

His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing,

roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at (c)

2009 King Features Syndicate