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McSwain to step down as crew chief

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, August 30, 2007
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McSwain to step down as crew chief at end of year
Veteran says personal desires outweigh professional
By Rick Houston, Special to NASCAR.COM 

It's a decision that Michael "Fatback" McSwain has been 
working toward for quite some time. 

At the end of the season, McSwain will step down as crew 
chief for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing and current driver Bill 
Elliott. He doesn't yet know where he'll land or what he'll 
be doing, but in McSwain's very countenance, there is 
nevertheless a most definite sense of relief. 

No longer will McSwain dread leaving his home in Dallas, 
N.C., where he lives with wife Deanna, 2-year old daughter 
Makayla and son Wyatt, who's just three months old. No 
longer will Makayla wonder when her daddy's going to be 
home. No longer will McSwain be just an infrequent visitor 
at his church. 

He'll be a full-fledged, active member.

"My focus is different," McSwain said Tuesday morning at 
the Wood Brothers/JTG shop in Harrisburg, N.C. "My desires 
are different. When I started, my professional focus and 
my professional desires drove everything. Now, my personal 
focus and my personal desires drive everything. 

"Before, I did everything to be able to race, to move 
forward and be successful at what I was doing in the racing 
business. Now, I race for the benefit of my family. It may 
be right and it may be wrong, but it is what it is." 

Team owners Len and Eddie Wood, as well as Tad Geschickter, 
have been informed of McSwain's intentions. There is a 
possibility that McSwain could move over to one of the 
organization's Craftsman Truck Series teams, or maybe into 
some sort of research and development role. 

Whatever the case, McSwain stressed that his decision is 
in no part due to any kind of dissatisfaction with the 
Wood Brothers/JTG operation in and of itself. Instead, he 
simply wants to concentrate on his family, friends and 
faith. 

"It's just a normality of life that I've been searching 
for," McSwain said. "I spent the first half of my life 
trying to get somewhere and now it's like the second half 
of my life, I'm trying to get back. I don't know where the 
road leads next, but I'm enjoying taking my little girl to 
school and putting her to bed at night. ... I'm just tired 
of being gone." 

When McSwain left Joe Gibbs Racing midway through the 2004 
season, he and his wife started making plans in earnest 
for a curtailing of his schedule. Stepping down as a Nextel 
Cup crew chief and the pay scale that goes with it will 
mean at least a 50-75 percent drop in pay, but it's a 
sacrifice that the McSwains are willing to make. 

"For the past three or four years, we've put every dime we 
could into paying off our house and our property," McSwain 
said. "We're not there [financially], but we're close 
enough to where something like this won't devastate us. We 
lead a fairly normal lifestyle." 

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Penske no Chase lock, but BMS another good show
By Dave Rodman, NASCAR.COM
 
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Team owner Roger Penske left Bristol Motor 
Speedway Saturday night confident his drivers, Ryan Newman 
and Kurt Busch, would have plenty of chances the rest of 
this season to race for wins, no matter if either of them 
makes the Chase for the Nextel Cup. 

And while the outcome of Saturday's Sharpie 500 reinforced 
the fact that, in 14th and 12th position in the standings, 
respectively, Newman and Busch's fates for the Chase might 
already be settled. 

Everyone at Penske Racing is keen to prove in the season's 
final 12 races -- half of which feature the Car of Tomorrow 
-- that they'll be contenders. 

That might have to hold them over until 2008, when the COT 
becomes "TOC" -- The Only Car in use in Nextel Cup. 

Despite Busch's sixth-place finish Saturday night and 
Newman's seventh -- the Penske veteran's fifth consecutive 
COT top-10 -- they remained right where they were coming 
into Bristol, and Newman remains 175 points out of a 
qualified spot for the Chase. 

"That's not frustrating -- it's frustrating if you're 
running good and you blow up, but having a good run is not 
frustrating," Newman said. "It was a good finish, but like 
I said before Michigan, we can't expect to make up so many 
points in three or four races. 

"We still have a shot at it -- mathematically we still have 
a chance, so we just give it the best shot we can each and 
every lap and hopefully it's good enough. It's good enough 
in my eyes -- but whether or not it's good enough to make 
the top 12, we'll see." 

continued below... 

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Newman has been in the top 15 in the standings, in fact, 
since the Michigan race in June -- nine races ago, when he 
was only 75 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
With two races remaining until the cutoff to the Chase, 
Newman knows his team's making it is a tall order. 

But the next two weekends, at California Speedway and the 
Richmond short track, according to Bristol winner Carl 
Edwards, might not be easy to take for either Busch or 
Martin Truex Jr., who's 11th and only eight points clear 
of Busch in the standings. 

With his fifth-place Bristol finish, Earnhardt shaved the 
margin to Busch to 158 points, while Newman is 17 points 
behind Earnhardt. 

"If I were 158 points ahead of 13th in 12th position, I'd 
still be having trouble sleeping at night [because] it's 
not done -- and until it's done, it's not done," Edwards 
said. "I think the last spot is still up for grabs. I 
believe you can gain 140-some points on someone in one race 
[actually 161 points], so two bad races for Kurt would be 
rough. 

"Anything can happen and the two racetracks we're going 
to -- California is hard on engines and Richmond is just 
plain hard, so you never know." 

Busch, who's been on a tear since he was paired with crew 
chief Pat Tryson at mid-summer, particularly in the most 
recent "standard car" races, where he has two wins and 
four top-six finishes in his last five starts, said he's 
aware of the razor's edge his team is treading. 

"We're running more consistent, and that's what it takes 
if you want to be a championship contender," Busch said. 
"But for us, we still have to get into the Chase -- we're 
not locked in and we're not losing focus on our big 
picture, which is two more races." 

Newman, whose last win came nearly two years ago in the 
Chase's opening event at New Hampshire, walked out of 
Bristol with Penske, explaining a late-race banging 
match with Earnhardt that was the result of a 
"miscommunication" over the same piece of real estate. 

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While both drivers smoothed those waters with their post-
race comments, Newman said he enjoyed the "new Bristol." 

"It was nice not to see so many feuded cautions -- guys 
taking each other out in retaliation and things like that," 
Newman said. "I didn't see it on my end, at least, and it 
was a good race and they did a good job with the racetrack. 
It was fun and we had two good days of racing. 

"It's not mellower -- I'm still just as whipped as I would 
be last year. But I think it's a lot racier and not just 
bumpy." 

And any weight he carried was eased considerably by his 
run of COT finishes, along with recent top-10s at 
Chicagoland and Pocono. 

"It's good to be running so well, and like I said before, 
we can't expect to make up points in these last four races 
that we didn't get in the first 22," Newman said. "We can 
only try our best, hopefully have a good effort and we did 
with our Dodge [Saturday]. 

"I was miserable in the car. We just got behind a little 
bit on pit road and that was enough -- we just didn't have 
enough to get past those guys. We were good enough to hold 
our own but couldn't pass them." 

Busch said his finish was sealed by a No. 2 Avenger that 
was too tight at the end, but even given his winning legacy 
of five victories on the "old Bristol," he was happy. 

"The track was obviously the best idea somebody could of 
implemented into a half-mile [and] I'm happy to race on 
it," Busch said. "It was just fantastic -- hands-down. I 
ran the bottom groove like the old-school days, looking 
like the Blue Deuce hugging the bottom of old, so we need 
to work on our car a little bit to drive different grooves, 
but I thought a sixth-place finish was pretty solid." 

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END OF NASCAR NEWS
Copyright 2007 by NextEra Media. All rights reserved.

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