NEW EGYPT — The last midweek special of the season will take place at New Egypt Speedway today, and it’s going to be a blockbuster, with a big 100-lap Modified battle paying big bucks, a winner-takes-all Challenge of Champions match race, and none other than NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart and former World of Outlaws champ Dave Blaney in the house. Champion Stewart, who drives the Home Depot No. 20 Chevrolet for owner Joe Gibbs on NASCAR’s top-level Winston Cup circuit, will be joined at New Egypt by his winning crew chief, Greg Zipadelli. Blaney, who now drives the No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford in Cup competition, will also greet Garden State race fans, as well as TV motorsports commentator Matt Yocum. All will be signing autographs during the evening, with Stewart’s session earmarked for a very worthy cause — Zippy’s Crusade for Kids, a charity created by Greg and Nan Zipadelli to assist children in need. The first 800 New Egypt Speedway fans who make a minimum $10 donation to Zippy’s Crusade for Kids on Aug. 20 will receive a collectible autograph card and the opportunity to have Tony Stewart sign the card or any single item of their choosing. New Egypt’s track hostesses will begin taking donations for the cause when gates open at 3 p.m. The autograph session will take place later in the evening. Before the signing, both Stewart and Blaney will strap into big-block dirt Modified stock cars and go at it against some of the biggest names in short track racing, in a winner-takes-all Challenge of Champions. Billy Pauch, with 600 career wins to his name; Doug Hoffman, with 22 titles earned at eight different tracks; the legendary Kenny Brightbill, with 13 championship notches on his belt; plus multi-time Northeast kingpins Frank Cozze and Keith Hoffman, as well as a couple of eleventh-hour additions with similar credentials — they’ll all be hell-bent on outdriving both Stewart and Blaney and taking down the $1,000 top prize for 12 laps’ work. The “Down & Dirty!” main event is a 100-lap distance run, sponsored by CARQUEST Auto Parts, offering some serious money for what is sure to be all-out, dead-aimed action. With $6,000 on the line for the winner and $300 to take the green, along with an open 13×92-inch tire rule, the event is certain to draw the top dirt-track talent in the Northeast — invaders like Danny Johnson, Craig VonDohren, Bobby Varin, Ricky Elliott and Rick Laubach looking to steal the six-from the local hotshots and visiting celebrity Dave Blaney. Tickets for CARQUEST’s “Down & Dirty!” 100 featuring Tony Stewart and Dave Blaney at New Egypt Speedway are $25, and can be purchased at the track today, starting at 3 p.m. Racing action will begin at 7:30 p.m.. New Egypt Speedway is located on Route 539, just minutes from Six Flags Great Adventure and the New Jersey Turnpike. For more information, contact the speedway office at (609) 758-1900.
Jean-Jacques Dordain, director of the European Space Agency (ESA) has called for the backers of the international space station (ISS) to keep it flying beyond 2015, when current funding runs out, until at least 2020. ISS will finally be completed this year and once the last shuttle has flown (also this year) only Russia will be able to carry astronauts into orbit. NASA has made no commitment to support the station after 2015, but that decision is awaiting the results of a human spaceflight review ordered by President Barack Obama. “I am convinced that stopping the station in 2015 would be a mistake because we cannot attract the best scientists if we are telling them today, ‘You are welcome on the space station but you’d better be quick because in 2015 we close the shop,’ ” Dourdain told a press conference yesterday.