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Publication: NASCAR News
Earnhardt Jr. will go retro

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, April 3, 2008
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Earnhardt Jr. will go retro on May 10 at Darlington
By Track Release

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race a special 
one-time-only throwback paint scheme on the No. 88 
Chevrolet at Darlington. 

To kick off Mountain Dew's "Old School New School" 
promotion, Earnhardt will pilot the No. 88 Mountain Dew 
AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet with a throwback paint 
scheme modeled after the 1981-82 entry driven by Darrell 
Waltrip. 

"I'm so excited about this paint scheme. To run a paint 
scheme like the Mountain Dew one is a tribute to the 
history of the sport and the heritage at Darlington," 
said Earnhardt. "I can't wait to see how the car looks 
on the track because it looks awesome on paper." 

Could the throwback Mountain Dew paint-scheme be a good-
luck charm for Earnhardt as he chases that elusive 
Darlington victory? The Mountain Dew colors have certainly 
proven to be lucky at Darlington in the past. Mountain 
Dew was on the hood of Darrell Waltrip's car in 1981 when 
he won 12 races, including the Rebel 500 at Darlington. 

Mountain Dew also will launch the "Old School New School" 
promotion that will give consumers the chance to win "Cars, 
Kicks and More." Those who participate in the "Old School 
New School" promotion will be able to decide which "school" 
they prefer. Beginning May 19, winning consumers will 
choose between new and retro prizes like 2009 Corvette or 
a vintage Corvette, an arcade game or an Xbox and many 
other items. You can learn more about Mountain Dew "Old 
School New School" by going to www.oldschoolornew.com. 

"Dale Earnhardt Jr. has such high regard for our sports 
past, it's only fitting that he be the one to bring back 
the retro Mountain Dew paint scheme at a historic track 
like Darlington Raceway," said Mark Dyer, President and 
CEO of Motorsports Authentics. "We are pleased to partner 
with Dale Jr., AMP Energy/Mountain Dew and Darlington 
Raceway on this program by giving fans the opportunity 
to commemorate this event with Action Racing Collectables 
die-cast and other 'Old School New School' memorabilia." 

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Helton, founder of MRO, dies at 67 from cancer

Max Helton, who formed a Christian ministry that 20 years 
ago became Motor Racing Outreach, died Sunday afternoon 
of brain cancer at his home in Huntersville, N.C. He was 
67. 

"This is an earthly loss but a heavenly gain," said Texas 
Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, who serves on the 
Board of Directors of World-Span Ministries, Helton's 
international motorsports ministry. 

"Max aided so many people in auto racing and you would 
often see him with some of the sport's top drivers offering 
a quiet prayer just before the start of a race. He very 
personally counseled me through the years and was a great 
influence on my life." 

Helton will be remembered during pre-race ceremonies Sunday 
at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Helton was working at a church in Glendora, Calif., in 
1988 when he met Darrell Waltrip and his wife, Stevie. 
Helton told the Waltrips that he felt called to lead a 
ministry in auto racing. 

Soon after, Helton formed Motor Racing Outreach and was 
leading Bible study with drivers and crew members in the 
sport, chapel service at race tracks each weekend and 
personal counseling session with those in the sport. He 
left Motor Racing Outreach in 2002. 

He then formed World-Span Ministries and took a very 
similar approach to racing series around the world 
traveling internationally as he spread the message. 

Helton was diagnosed with brain cancer in August. He is 
survived by his wife, Jean, along with four daughters and 
nine grandchildren. 

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General Mills' move to RCR has Petty searching for '09
Sponsor to end ties with 43 to back fourth Childress car
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

Richard Childress Racing will field a fourth Sprint Cup 
car next season backed by General Mills, a move that 
leaves Petty Enterprises searching for a new primary 
sponsor for its flagship No. 43 car. 

RCR will unveil the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper 
Chevrolet for the 2009 season, with a driver to be 
announced at a later date. The newcomer will join stable-
mates Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, all 
of whom won races and qualified for NASCAR's Chase last 
year. Despite that success, team owner Richard Childress 
viewed eventual expansion as vital if he hoped to keep 
pace with rival organizations with more cars. 

"I think if you look at the two teams we're going to be 
racing for the championship against," Childress said, 
"Roush has four or five, seven, eight [cars], I don't 
know how many he really has. And Hendrick is the big 
number, they've had four teams and been a contender, and 
all their cars have been able to win races and run good. 
I think that's the bar that we have to shoot at. It just 
gives us more resources, it gives us more talent to work 
with. If we're going to beat these guys, we have to have 
the same amount of resources as they have." 

Childress said he has a short list of four or five 
potential drivers for the car. But it didn't sound 
Tuesday as if Bobby Labonte, who drives the General 
Mills-backed car for Petty Enterprises this season -- 
and whose contract is up at the end of the year -- would 
be making the move to RCR along with his sponsor. 

"I think he's going to end up staying at Petty," Childress 
said. "I don't know that, but I would think that we would 
end up staying there." 

Labonte, who's driving a Nationwide car on a limited basis 
this year for Childress, was non-committal on his future 
in a statement released Tuesday. 

"I'm very humbled by the level of interest in my future, 
but at this time I'm concentrating all my efforts in 
getting Petty Enterprises back to Victory Lane. I feel 
good about all the positive steps that Petty Enterprises 
has made and continues to make," he said. 

"At this time, I have no intention to talk about my plans 
after 2008 because of the immediate tasks at hand. I 
respectively ask for everyone's patience in this matter 
and, again, am humbled by everyone's interest." 

Childress said General Mills agreed to join his team last 
week. The decision comes just six races into the current 
season, partly because the company does much of its 
planning a half a year in advance, Childress said. The 
timing gives RCR a healthy 10 months to prepare for the 
No. 33 car's rollout in 2009. Childress said he'll likely 
promote some crewmen from his Nationwide operation, as he 
did when Bowyer's No. 07 team was formed. 

"This gives us an opportunity to take our time, build new 
cars, do some testing hopefully before the year is over, 
and be really ready to go," he said. 

Meanwhile, the Petty organization begins searching for a 
new backer for its iconic No. 43 car, which has had six 
drivers since Richard Petty completed his last race in 
1992. Labonte, currently 21st in owner points, is in his 
third season in the car. The vehicle has had only two 
primary sponsors -- STP and General Mills -- since 1972. 
The team is also reportedly brokering a partnership with 
a New York-based financial group. 

continued below...

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"While there is substantial sponsorship interest in Bobby 
and Petty Enterprises, we will carefully consider our 
options to ensure the continuation of our rich tradition 
and to build on current momentum," said Brian Moffitt, the 
team's vice president for marketing. "Prospective partners 
are well aware of the special power of the Petty brand, as 
numerous surveys and marketing groups have identified 
Richard Petty as one of the most iconic brands in all of 
sports." 

And that brand is what Petty will try to sell. Although 
Petty's 268 Cup victories are the most by any team, and 
the organization moved from Level Cross, N.C., to metro 
Charlotte this past offseason in a bid to become more 
competitive, Petty hasn't enjoyed much on-track success 
since John Andretti recorded the team's last race victory 
in 1999. Kyle Petty fell outside of the top 35 in owner 
points after the race at Bristol, missed last week's event 
at Martinsville, and will let 23-year-old Chad McCumbee 
try to qualify the No. 45 car this weekend at Texas. 

That means Petty is likely looking for a sponsor who 
can find value not in racetrack performance, but the 
intangibles Petty can bring. 

"If $20 million is top and below $12 million you can't 
even compete, then what is their proposition worth on 
that scale?" asked veteran motorsports marketer Max 
Muhleman. "Maybe somebody will pay $20 million for 
somebody who will win every race. But for somebody who 
is the most revered team in racing, with The King, and 
the most revered family, and people who bring that much 
character to the table? If a person has never seen 
Richard and/or Kyle in person at a personal appearance, 
no matter what they think, they'll have their socks blown 
off. These are the most sincere, most committed, the most 
patient, the most admirable superstar athletes you'd ever 
want to see person-to-person." 

Yet struggles on the racetrack can't be ignored. "Their 
racing side, they've got to be accountable for that," 
Muhleman said. "They've got to be able to say, 'This is 
what we can do and these are the people we want to do it 
with.' But at the top, their blue-chip delivery, their 
five-star delivery, is the Petty name and the Petty 
attitude and the Petty legend." 

Petty is unique in the NASCAR garage in that it historical-
ly has been able to provide sponsor value despite struggles 
on the track. The King still holds plenty of significance 
to fans and potential customers, even though only one of 
his cars has finished inside the top 20 in points since 
1999. 

"I think it's very likely that there are many eligible 
sponsors out there that, upon being presented with exactly 
how the Petty reputation can work for them, would consider 
it, and would realize they had not considered it in the 
terms of being a character and a legend and a reputation 
play more than a performance play," Muhleman said. "I'm 
not saying that anybody can get the money that Dale 
[Earnhardt] Jr. or Jeff Gordon or the guys who are at the 
top of the sport from a winning standpoint get. But I think 
in NASCAR, there's always going to be a special case and 
consideration for character and quality." 

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