Garage Chatter: Season Finale

Kahne and Newman to run Intrepids at Homestead: Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman both will run Dodge Intrepids at Homestead-Miami Speedway instead of the Dodge Charger. NASCAR allowed the car change and still has the 2004 Intrepid templates for the...

Kahne and Newman to run Intrepids at Homestead: Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman both will run Dodge Intrepids at Homestead-Miami Speedway instead of the Dodge Charger.

NASCAR allowed the car change and still has the 2004 Intrepid templates for the inspection process.

Wallace in 97 again this weekend: After a 16th place performance at Phoenix last weekend, Roush Racing has decided to keep Kenny Wallace in the No. 97 Ford this week at Homestead.

Todd Kleuver was originally anticipated to make his first Cup start - but the team changed their minds.

"We've asked Kenny to return for an encore performance. He did a really nice job in a car that was not set up for him and he didn't have any practice in the car," said Geoff Smith. "We think Kenny deserves a chance with a car that is set up for him and with an entire weekend of work with the team." Also note this means that Kenny and hopefully Mike will race together with brother Rusty in his final Nextel Cup race."

Kurt Busch was released from the final two races of the season after a reckless driving citation in Phoenix Friday night. It was suspected that Busch was under the influence of alcohol but police withheld until earlier this week results of an initial breathalyzer which showed Busch to be under the legal limit. A second test administered at the station malfunctioned.

"No, certainly not by me," said Jack Roush on the possibility of Busch being reinstated. "Kurt had been a challenge for everybody that interacted with him on the team at some time or other. He used up his equity with his sponsors. He used up his equity with me. Barring real contrition, an understanding that what he had done was something he was truly sorry about and he would, in fact, make a commitment to everybody that he wouldn't do those things, there was no reason to back up from it."

Changes at Evernham: The team that currently runs the part-time No. 91 Dodge at Evernham will move to the No. 19 of Jeremy Mayfield in 2006. The crew is led by crew chief Chris Andrews.

The No. 19 team will shift to the No. 9 of Kasey Kahne with Kenny Francis serving as crew chief.

Stewart still favorite to win: Tony Stewart remains the clear cut favorite to score his second Cup series championship this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I think it would be a travesty if Tony Stewart didn't win the championship," said Jack Roush. "I congratulate him on the prospect of winning and I hope that he does."

Stewart currently leads Jimmie Johnson by 52 points. Johnson knows that unless Stewart encounters some sort of bad luck he is pretty much stuck in second place for the third consecutive year.

"I am coming into this pretty relaxed," Johnson said. "I know that I have to go out there and try and get all the points that I can."

For third places Carl Edwards, running his first full season of Cup, he's just happy to be here, "To be honest with you, for me personally, I don't feel like I should be here. I feel like there are a lot of guys in this sport that have paid a lot more dues and who probably on average run better at a lot of these tracks. I feel very fortunate this year for our Office Depot team. We haven't been very good on road courses and we haven't been very good on short tracks, but our luck has been such that we ended up running just well enough at those places, and we haven't had any bad luck at the races that we do run well at. I think we're in the best possible position we could have been in.

"As far as representing the sport, it's really an honor to be up here with these guys because I do feel like these are the best guys in this sport. I feel like I kind of came in through the back door. I'm lucky to be here. I think next year will be a little bit better and if we have the same luck, we can maybe be in a little bit better position even."

Edwards sits 87 points out of first and would need Stewart and Johnson to both suffer some ill-fate to grab the championship.

Woods Brothers announce new sponsor: Woods Brothers Racing announced that they will field two Craftsman Truck Series and two Busch series cars in addition to their No. 21 Cup car. Bob East and Marcus Ambrose will run in trucks and Jon Wood and Stacy Compton will run Busch.

Ken Schrader was officially announced as the new driver of the Cup car with Little Debbie jumping aboard as a subsidiary sponsor.

In addition, Jon Wood will run seven Cup races in a second Woods Brothers Ford in 2006 to prepare him to go full time Cup racing in 2007.

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Kenny Wallace , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Stacy Compton , Jimmie Johnson , Jon Wood , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush