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Hendrick driving efforts for Haiti relief

1/23/2010 - NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NASCAR Foundation will donate $250,000 toward relief help in Haiti, officials said on Saturday night at the Charlotte Bobcats' NBA game where four-time defending Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson and other drivers were on hand to help raise even more funds.

Senior vice president Paul Brooks said the donation was driven by team owner Rick Hendrick, who has made two planes available to fly supplies and medical help to the earthquake devastated republic.

The money will go directly to the Missionary Flight International out of Florida that coordinates relief flights to Haiti.

Team owner/driver Michael Waltrip also has donated the use of one of his planes and Joe Gibbs Racing is looking at providing at least one of his planes.

"Hopefully soon we'll have three planes flying to do whatever we can if Gibbs is involved,'' Brooks said. "Tonight is the least we can do to join these two sports together to rally the community for this effort.''

NASCAR Night at Time Warner Arena originally was scheduled to raise funds for the Victory Junction Gang Camp established by Kyle and Pattie for terminally and chronically ill children.

After the tragedy in Haiti it was decided to send a majority of the funds raised by donations and a portion of ticket sales to the relief effort.

"It is funny how NASCAR always aspired to be like Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA,'' Petty said. "You never really think about just how big we've become until you throw the two together for something like this.

"It is a big deal for us to be able to do what we're doing.''

Brooks agreed.

"Both our sports have charities close to our athletes' hearts, but the needs in Haiti go beyond those borders,'' he said. "It's a true human need.''

Waltrip said his plane is flying supplies and medical help to Florida because it is not approved for international travel. From there those supplies are taken by other planes, such as the ones HMS donated.

"I love racing cars,'' Waltrip said. "It's nice to be able to make a difference with something like this.''

NASCAR drivers are getting involved beyond Saturday night's event. Johnson donated 2,000 T-shirts from his foundation to be flown to Haiti. Max Papis is devising a plan to donate money and have fans donate money for every lap he runs between the Rolex 24 and Daytona 500.

"It's good we're able to be able to help,'' Johnson said.

Said Papis, "If I can do anything to make people more aware, that's part of my duty.''

Papis joined Waltrip, Brad Keselowski, Kelly Bires and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the first-ever NBA skills competition before the Bobcats faced the Orlando Magic. Stenhouse, who was subbing for the injured Denny Hamlin, won with a time of 32 seconds.

Keselowski was last with a time of 52 seconds. He didn't care, knowing the ultimate goal was to raise money for Haiti.

"Let me tell you something,'' the Penske Racing driver said. "My brother got on a plane in Michigan to Florida to go to Haiti for Christian ministry. Guess whose plane took him there from Florida?

"Rick Hendrick's. That says it all.''

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.