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Texas Notes: Stewart Bored? Not Really

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 6 2009

Tony Stewart back tracked a bit Friday on his week-old contention that Talladega was boring. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart back tracked a bit Friday on his week-old contention that Talladega was boring. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Fort Worth, Texas – Despite being caught on ABC’s coverage of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway telling his team he was having trouble staying awake during Sunday’s race as the field ran in single-file formation, Tony Stewart contends that last weekend’s restrictor plate event was entertaining.

“It wasn’t a boring race,” Stewart said. “There’s cars that are all nose-to-tail. But I don’t know what else everybody wants.

“I mean, it’s a strategic race. That’s all there is to it. It’s not a situation where you can do anything on your own. It never has been.”

After rallying from two laps down when he suffered a cut tire on Sunday at Talladega, Kurt Busch had a potential top 10 finish in sight when he spun after receiving a tap on the rear bumper from new teammate Brad Keselowski.

Busch had some choice words over his team radio for Keselowski following the incident. But the 2004 Sprint Cup champion claims he’s already moved past the incident.

“Things that are said just need to be brushed off and taken for what they are worth,” Busch said.  “I was at Daytona (for a tire test) on Monday and put my arm around Brad.

“He flew with me on my own plane down to Daytona and we talked about things.  I joked with him and said, ‘Hey, we have five people in this plane and we have four parachutes.  Where’s yours?’

“We’re all in this together and a new guy coming in, I’ve seen it plenty of times.  He’s driving hard, he’s aggressive.  He’ll find his niche and find his spot in this sport.”

Jimmie Johnson achieved what some labeled a perfect weekend last month when he paced both practice sessions then won the pole and Cup race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

Already on the brink of becoming the first driver in history to win four consecutive Cup championships, Johnson was asked how important it would be for him to become the first driver to clinch the Chase before arriving at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale.

“It would be really nice to do that,” said Johnson, who holds a 184 point lead over Mark Martin heading into Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’m not mentally planning for that. I’m still trying to race this weekend and next weekend as if we’re behind in points. You need maximum points because you just never know.

“Right now, I’m just trying to keep the blinders on and stay focused on maximum points. I’m going to keep playing offense, being aggressive and have the momentum going forward instead of trying to hang on where I’m at on track.”

Juan Pablo Montoya refused to offer any hints Friday on who might be in line to become his new teammate next season at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

Martin Truex Jr., who will pilot a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010, is vacating EGR’s No. 1 Chevrolet at the end of the month.

“You’ve got to ask (team owner) Chip (Ganassi),” Montoya said. “I think somebody is going to be driving the car. I don’t know who is going to be driving the car.

“I don’t really ask. I concentrate on what I’ve got to do myself. If Chip has a question or if he wants my opinion, I’ll give it to him. Otherwise, he runs the team and I drive the car.”

Little Debbie will return as a sponsor on Marcos Ambrose’s No. 47 Toyota in 2010.

The founders of McKee Foods, which owns the Little Debbie brand, are Seventh Day Adventists.

Out of respect for the sponsor’s beliefs, JTG-Daugherty Racing will continue the trend of not displaying Little Debbie logos on the car on Saturdays.

“That’ll still stand,” Ambrose said. “We will run the Little Debbie paint schemes on Friday and Sundays, but we won’t run any McKee family sponsorship on Saturdays to respect their faith, their religion and their belief.”

Justin Allgaier was one of eight drivers to participate in Monday’s test of the new Nationwide Series car at Talladega Superspeedway.

Allgaier piloted Penske Racing’s No. 12 Dodge Challenger during the six-hour session. The rookie driver hopes NASCAR schedules additional tests prior to rolling out the car at Daytona in July.

“If we can test it once a week until Daytona next year, it still wouldn’t be enough,” said Allgaier, the 2008 ARCA champion. “I would love to see (NASCAR) open the testing up a little bit. But we’ll just have to wait and see what they want to do.”

As for the new Challenger nameplate, Allgaier is confident it’s going to be a hit on the track and with the fans.

“I give Dodge a lot of credit for coming out with the Challenger,” he said. “I thought that car was really awesome looking. I can’t wait for the first race. I think the fans are going to love it. I think the drivers are going to enjoy it.

“I’m excited. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 6 2009
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