Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Notes From The Cup Garage

Jamie McMurray topped the speed chart in last night’s final Sprint Cup Series test session at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. His fast lap of 185.720 mph was slower than the 186.245 recorded by Elliott Sadler on Monday night. Ryan Newman was second fastest last night, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Riggs and rookie Patrick Carpentier. Nearly 50 teams took part in the two-day test.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed his Chevrolet during the session, dong enough damage to force his retirement for the night. Regan Smith and Kurt Busch also scraped the wall in separate incidents, doing only minor damage.

Park The Black Copter: Denny Hamlin said yesterday that the conspiracy theorists are wrong. Hamlin said his decision to stop on the racetrack after cutting a tire while leading Saturday night at Richmond was made to save his racecar, not to help teammate Kyle Busch. Hamlin said, “I didn't want to risk tearing up the car where we couldn't finish the race. I knew I had to stop, or else we were going to get a DNF. I didn't even know where Kyle was out on the racetrack. For all I know, he was leading the race."

Woods Go Retro: Wood Brothers Racing will field a special 1971 Mercury paint scheme on its #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion in Saturday night’s Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington. Bill Elliott will drive the car, outfitted with the same candy apple red and white paint and gold numbers that David Pearson drove to five wins and eight poles at Darlington. Pearson recently turned a few laps in the original car, restored to race-ready condition by Leonard Wood after it sat for more than 30 years on display at the Darlington Raceway Museum.

Marlin Back With Ganassi: Sterling Marlin will drive Chip Ganassi Racing’s #40 Dodge Saturday night, while Dario Franchitti continues to recover from the broken left ankle he suffered at Talladega Superspeedway last month. Marlin tested the car Monday and Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Franchitti was fitted for a carbon fiber brace last week, but will sit-out for at least one more week to give the ankle more time to heal. His status will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

Sorry Kenny: A late change has Johnny Sauter behind the wheel of the #70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington. The original entry list had Ken Schrader driving, and that was confirmed by last weekend by Competition Director Matt Borland. But an updated Sprint Cup Series entry list for Saturday night’s race now lists Sauter as the driver. He drove for the team at Phoenix and Richmond, qualifying for both races before finishing 37th and 33rd after being swept up in a pair of accidents.

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