Haas awaits trial, expands team
Gene Haas, owner of the two-car Haas CNC Racing team in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, is awaiting his trial on charges of filing false tax returns, witness intimidation and conspiracy. Haas, a California State University, Northridge, graduate who also owns the Oxnard-based Haas Automation Inc., is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 18. He was arrested in June by IRS agents and has been free on $10 million bond since June. In the meantime, Haas has expanded his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series efforts – from one to two cars – and is also preparing for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday. Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter will be his drivers. Both have already qualified for the race. Green’s No. 66 team finished in the top35 in the owner points standings last year, earning a starting spot. Sauter, driver of the No. 70 Chevrolet, earned his starting spot during qualifying Sunday. Sauter was ninth and Green was 26th in qualifying for the Daytona 500. “The car felt good, but we didn’t have our qualifying speed up to where we wanted it,” Green said. “This is a brand new car, and we didn’t even get to test with it.” Green said he plans on taking an aggressive strategy in today’s Gatorade Duels, even though he has a guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500. “Well, you definitely don’t lay back in the early going,” Green said. “You’ve got to put yourself in position to try and get a good starting spot for the 500.” Green and crew chief Harold Holly have been reunited at Haas CNC Racing. They worked together to win a NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2000. “You can’t buy chemistry,” Green said. “You can’t buy what Harold and I have. Our first race back together, (Martinsville, Va., October 2006) we finished eighth. That just shows you how much confidence and chemistry means to the success of a race team.” Sauter drove the Haas CNC Racing entry in the NASCAR Busch Series last year. He was one of three drivers to earn a spot in the Daytona 500 on qualifying time. Four more starting spots are up for grabs in the duels. The top-two drivers in each race will earn starting spots in the Daytona 500. The finishing order of the duels will determine the starting order for the 500. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Haas Automation issued a statement that said its founder is “innocent of any and all charges,” and the “IRS issues revolve around the activities of a former Haas Automation employee.” Requests for an interview with Haas were respectfully declined.