Garage Chatter: NHIS II

NASCAR does New York: The top ten Chase for the Nextel Cup drivers took to New York City this week to do various media television media outlets and visit with the Northeast press core. Among the highlights: A pie fighting contest on "Live with...

NASCAR does New York: The top ten Chase for the Nextel Cup drivers took to New York City this week to do various media television media outlets and visit with the Northeast press core.

Among the highlights: A pie fighting contest on "Live with Regis and Kathy Lee" and the top ten it on "Late Night with David Letterman" delivered by all ten drivers. Best lines for the question 'things you won't hear a NASCAR driver say'?

MATT KENSETH: "If you think I'm fast in my car, you should see me in the bedroom."

JEFF BURTON: "I don't care much for country music or beer."

Grubb suspended indefinitely: The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing has suspended driver Kevin Grubb from all NASCAR racing series indefinitely. Grubb refused to submit to a random drug test which resulted in NASCAR's decision. Previously, in March of 2004, Grubb failed a NASCAR sanctioned drug test prompting the sanctioning body to suspend him until this past June; when he was deemed to have successfully passed a drug rehabilitation program.

Grubb blames the incident at Richmond on a concussion resulting from a race crash that made him "foggy". He agreed to submit to a drug test the next day but the decision at this point remains the same.

David Ragan full time next year: Roush Racing has committed to run David Ragan full time in the Busch series next season. Ragan has made one start this season and has five career starts.

Busch in hopeful position: Kyle Busch isn't going to let his age get him down. He has made the Chase for the first time in his career and expects to be able to run well and compete for the Championship. Last season, his team did a "mock" Chase the final ten races, pretending that they were competing for 10th to work on their strategies should they make the Chase another season.

With Busch in the final field the team feels prepared to be able to keep up with some of the veterans in the field.

"If I was intimidated I wouldn't be where I am today," said Kyle Busch.

Point leader Kenseth has strong advantage at NHIS: Kenseth will begin the first Chase race leading Jimmie Johnson by five points. In 13 career starts at NHIS, Kenseth has earned eight top-10 finishes. He wound up third at this race last year and finished 14th at the NHIS race in July. Kenseth has four wins this season. Kenseth is the one if just two former champions in this years Chase field, he won the title in 2003.

"It feels good leading the points," commented Kenseth. "It's five points, but it's still five points. I feel good about that. My team has been doing a great job this year and we've been able to steadily pick away at Jimmie's lead a little bit here and there and was able to finally get it last week. It feels good to get it, but the main thing is to try and not give it back. I'm happy with what we've done the first 26, but the ones that count are coming up now."

Kahne hopeful but not picking himself as the champion: Kahne is glad to have made the Chase and admits he is certainly sleeping better but realized his team still has some things to work on and that he's not the front runner for the championship.

"I think Talladega is going to be our most challenging track to get a top- 10 or a top-15 out of," said Kahne. "Besides that just showing up at the racetrack and knowing what we can do to make our car fast, but I think in the last few races we've learned what we can do to make that car fast. If we can keep that up than I think we have a good shot.

When Kahne was asked to predict who is the favorite to win the Chase: "I think Matt Kenseth for sure."

Almost as an after thought, he added "Oh yeah, us (the 9 car) and the 5."

On his good friend and reigning Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart missing the Chase field, Kahne was taken aback but not apologetic.

"I didn't say I feel sorry for him (Stewart)," Kahne joked. "I just said I was surprised, him being the reigning Champion and all, but I am in and that is all I care about right now."

Gordon paces practice: Jeff Gordon paced initial practice for Nextel Cup teams at New Hampshire International Raceway with a lap of 130.968 mph. Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin complete the top five fastest times.

Johnson admits to slow starts in Chase: Jimmie Johnson usually doesn't get off to a gangbuster start in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Johnson has competed in the Chase every year of its existence, but usually enters with a whimper.

"This is one of the two tracks that I don't think are my strongest tracks," said Johnson. "I've won here twice before and hopefully I can get that back going once again. We've got great race tracks coming up. One of the biggest changes we've made is the fact that we haven't changed a lot. We know what we are doing."

Johnson enters NHIS second in points, trailing leader Matt Kenseth by five markers.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Grubb , Clint Bowyer , David Ragan , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch