RICHMOND, Va. The reward Joe Nemechek has received for all three of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series victories is a pink slip.
The driver, who is three weeks short of his 40th birthday, was told Tuesday he wouldn't return in the No. 25 Chevrolet prepared at Hendrick Motorsports. That job will go to 19-year-old Brian Vickers.
Nemechek won his first race at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1999, only to get booted out of SABCO Motorsports at the end of the year. He won at North Carolina Speedway in 2001, only to lose his job with Travis Carter Motorsports when sponsor Kmart filed for bankruptcy.
The former Busch Series champion also won earlier this year at Richmond International Raceway site of Saturday night's Chevy Rock and Roll 400.
With Vickers moving up from the NASCAR Busch Series to Winston Cup in 2004, team owner Rick Hendrick said 18-year-old Kyle Busch would take Vickers' old job on the Busch circuit. The two finished 1-2 last week at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, with Vickers getting his second victory of the season.
''The opportunity that Rick Hendrick and GMAC (the new team sponsor) have offered me is tremendous,'' Vickers said. ''My goal in coming to Hendrick Motorsports was to be competitive each week and race for championships.''
GET TO THE POINT: Apparently NASCAR likes the point system and won't make any big changes for 2004.
Matt Kenseth's 389-point lead in the standings prompted some to say the system needs an overhaul.
The system only has a five-point difference between the top-six finishing positions, as well as a five-point bonus for leading a single lap and for leading the most laps.
Instead of working on the points, NASCAR said it would concentrate on the cars to make them more racy, competition director John Darby said.
At the same time, the sanctioning body said it was backing off an early claim the points system needed some attention.
TRUCKIN' TO ATLANTA: Atlanta Motor Speedway will add a NASCAR Craftsman Truck race to its March racing weekend next year.
''We thought long and hard about how we could beef up our spring race schedule, and what kind of event the fans really wanted to see,'' speedway president Ed Clark said.
''What really convinced me is that the fans have been asking us to run a truck race for years. And after watching them test here many times, and watching a bunch of great truck races, I agree with them that this will be a great, close race with tons of action."
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