Garage Chatter: Sonoma

Gordon fastest: Jeff Gordon turned the fastest lap during initial practice for Nextel Cup teams at Infineon Raceway. Gordon's lap of 93.555 mph just bested Kurt Busch's lap of 93.072. Robby Gordon, Boris Said and Greg Biffle complete the top five...

Gordon fastest: Jeff Gordon turned the fastest lap during initial practice for Nextel Cup teams at Infineon Raceway. Gordon's lap of 93.555 mph just bested Kurt Busch's lap of 93.072. Robby Gordon, Boris Said and Greg Biffle complete the top five quickest times.

Gordon's No. 24 Chevy was so good, that the team ran just six practice laps during the 2-hour session.

Pay your taxes: A word to the wise - don't piss off the taxman. Team owner Gene Haas was arrested Monday for investigation of conspiracy, filing false tax returns and witness intimidation. He is accused to trying to defraud the Internal Revenue Service of $20 million.

Haas is the owner of CNC Racing which fields the No. 66 Nextel Cup car driven by Jeff Green, and Johnny Sauter's No. 00 Busch Series car.

Riggs injured on vacation: Scott Riggs injured both his feet this past week while trying to unload his jet ski onto an oyster bed. He required 12 stitches in his left foot and eight on his right.

While Riggs plans on participating in all activities at Sonoma, in the event he finds he cannot, veteran driver Bill Elliott will stand-by as the relief driver.

Pruett to drive No. 40 Dodge: Scott Pruett will take over driving duties for rookie David Stremme this weekend at Infineon Raceway. Stremme will run the Busch series race in Milwaukee this weekend instead.

Sprint/Nextel announcement soon?: Word is that Sprint/Nextel will make an announcement next weekend as to what the new name of the Cup series will be in 2007. Sprint acquired Nextel Communications last year and there has been speculation ever since that some sort of series rename was looming. The 'Nextel' name has stayed on as a product category at Sprint and is expected to still be part of the series name.

Sources say that the Nextel Cup series name may stay intact, and the Chase for the Championship may be renamed the Sprint for the Nextel Cup.

Marlin gets new crew chief: Veteran Sterling Marlin has a new crew chief this weekend at Infineon, but he is a familiar face. Scott Eggleston takes over crew chief duties, replacing Doug Randolph, who has been reassigned.

"I feel this team has potential and look forward to working with Sterling and the crew. Our goal is to be a challenger week in and week out," said Eggleston.

Marlin has just one top ten finish this season.

Busch star looks to Cup this weekend: Just one week after one of the biggest upsets in Busch series history, David Gilliland is looking to make an impression in the Cup series. Gilliland will attempt to qualify for this weekend's road course race at Infineon Raceway.

Gilliland will be driving for CMJ Racing - a team that hasn't made a race yet this season.

Although the odds are stacked against him, Gilliland remains hopeful, "We're mainly doing this to get some road course experience in a heavy car, like a Cup car. I've won at Infineon in a Southwest Tour car two years ago. We're going to run there to gain experience for next year. If we are able to put a deal together for next year it will cut down on our learning curve a little bit."

NASCAR's romance novels: It's the UGH heard round the garage, as NASCAR and Harlequin Romance plunge face forward into a series of sultry books revolving around the NASCAR garage. Written by Pamela Britton, "In The Groove" debut in February, but having just taken two weeks off the tour this was my first chance to read it.

I can only hope her follow up "On The Edge" is more compelling. Liz Allison, wife of the late Davey Allison, is also set to lend her um..writing skills? to Harlequin.

Word to the wise: English Lit majors and anyone with an IQ over 40 skip right past this section in the bookstore.

Umbrella-Gate: I have had some 25 calls and hundreds of emails pointing out a disturbing thing that occurred during the rain delay last weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

It seems that only Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin were man enough to face the weather without an umbrella, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick were the only drivers to actually hold their own umbrellas.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Scott Pruett , Scott Riggs , Johnny Sauter , Kasey Kahne , David Stremme , David Gilliland , Denny Hamlin , Davey Allison