NASCAR notebook: Childress trying to nail down loose ends for 2011

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Even with the loss of four-year sponsor Shell/Pennzoil to Penske Racing, Kevin Harvick says he feels no sense of urgency to re-sign with Richard Childress Racing--or to find another ride, as the case may be.

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Even with the loss of four-year sponsor Shell/Pennzoil to Penske Racing, Kevin Harvick says he feels no sense of urgency to re-sign with Richard Childress Racing--or to find another ride, as the case may be.

"I don't think there is anything pressing time-wise for anybody, whether it's the team at RCR or myself," Harvick said.

Team owner Richard Childress might disagree.

Without Harvick signed, it's difficult to pitch a new sponsor. Without a sponsor in the fold, it's harder to sign the driver.

"Which is first, the chicken or the egg?" Childress asked wryly Friday during NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Talladega Superspeedway. "I think it's good for all parties involved to have a direction. No matter where it's at, I think you've got to have a direction.


"We didn't want it to be this late in the season. ... We're talking, and, definitely, both of us have interest in pursuing the future."

In the wake of Kasey Kahne's recently-announced contract with Hendrick Motorsports, RCR is one of several teams linked to discussions with Budweiser, Kahne's current sponsor.

Asked whether he had talked with Budweiser, Childress replied, "I drink the hell out of 'em."

For his part, Harvick conceded that, whether he re-signs with RCR or not, he'll almost certainly be in a Chevrolet next year.

"That'd be a good, fair statement," Harvick said Friday morning, before putting his No. 33 Chevrolet on the pole for Saturday's Nationwide Series race.

Harvick runs Chevrolets for his own Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series teams.


After 14 teams ran more than 2,000 laps of testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this week, Goodyear is likely to bring to this year's July 25 Brickyard 400 the same tire Sprint Cup drivers ran successfully at the speedway in 2009.


"We still have to review the results and go over the data in detail before our decision is finalized, but we found our control tire setup, which was the 2009 race tire, still performs very well and is a very comfortable package," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales.

"We saw some definite improvements with various elements of the development tires we evaluated during the test, but we didn't have clear consensus from the drivers on which change would be a sure improvement over the control. It's important to maintain the proper balance with the overall race package for all the cars in the field."


Matt Kenseth will replace Colin Braun in Roush Fenway Racing's No. 16 Ford for Nationwide Series races at Richmond (April 30) and Darlington (May 7). Braun will continue in the car for at least the 16 races under Con-way Freight sponsorship, including Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega, but owner Jack Roush may look to Kenseth and other drivers--or to Braun--to fill in the balance of the Nationwide events. Roush announced the move four days after Braun wrecked teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the rain-delayed event at Texas.

Kenseth said Friday that his Cup spotter, Mike Calinoff, who has been spotting for Stenhouse in Nationwide races, would continue to do so in the races at Richmond and Darlington.

"For those two races, they're going to leave the spotters how they are," Kenseth said. "Lorin (Ranier) is going to spot for me, and Mike's going to continue to spot for Ricky. He's been helping him out a lot this year, so that's going to stay like it is."


Ryan Newman will go to a backup car after a tap from Mark Martin sent his No. 39 Chevrolet spinning into the inside wall during Friday's second Cup practice. The crash heavily damaged the left rear of Newman's car.


Newman slowed to avoid cars checking up in front of him at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, and Martin was unable to avoid contact with Newman's car. Jeff Burton was fastest in the Happy Hour session at 199.467 mph.

"I don't know what happened," Newman said. "I know I got hit. I just don't know why or what happened--just tired being the one getting hit at these places. I guess I will just start driving into everybody like they do me and see if I can turn somebody else around or whatever and see what happens. It is a product of the racing here and it is not the greatest, but I know NASCAR is doing everything they can and we'll see if it gets any better throughout the weekend."


The race formerly known as the Pocono 500 has a new name: the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target. The June 6 event at Pocono Raceway coincides with the launch of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide shaving system, an item formerly known as a razor.


Despite the threat of severe weather, NASCAR will try to run its scheduled events on Saturday--Cup qualifying and the Nationwide Series race. After a series of meetings involving track personnel, NASCAR and the National Weather Service, track president Grant Lynch explained that the forecast was uncertain enough to warrant an attempt to complete the scheduled events.

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