Notebook: Texas weekend

Busch doesn't need stand-in after all: Ricky Craven almost got back into a Cup car this weekend. He was standing by in case Kurt Busch didn't feel well enough to pilot the No. 97 Ford at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday. Busch took a hard lick in...

Busch doesn't need stand-in after all:

Ricky Craven almost got back into a Cup car this weekend. He was standing by in case Kurt Busch didn't feel well enough to pilot the No. 97 Ford at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday.

Busch took a hard lick in the IROC race here Friday and there was some concern that bruised ribs may sideline the reigning champ.

Busch looked in good form from the very start of the race leading laps and finishing seventh.

"It was a good finish to our day," said Busch. "I am a little sore and dizzy. I'm just real sore -- everything about me. I just want to go home and take a breather before Phoenix."

Sadler goes down with 6 to go:

Defending race winner Elliott Sadler doesn't like Texas as much as he did one year ago. After mounting the comeback of the race, the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford snapped a timing belt in the races closing laps taking him out of the race.

"I have no earthly idea (what happened)," said Sadler. "I don't know, but it's somewhere in the drive train. I'd like to comment on it more but I just don't know what happened. We were going to have a top-15.

We had about a 40th place car at the beginning of the race and then Todd (Parrott, crew chief) and the guys kept adjusting on it and made it better. We had a top-15 car and that's about where we would have finished, but it just wasn't meant to be."

Last year, Sadler made everyone sit up and take notice by stealing the win from Kasey Kahne to earn his first win of 2004. The victory gave the No. 38 team momentum to build on as they made their bid to make the chase for the championship.

It's a heavy blow to Sadler who had climbed to third in standings after Martinsville. The poor result catapults him to eighth spot. Of course, all is not lost for Sadler and his team. In the seven events completed, they have earned four top-10's.

Next weekend might not be the best for this team to turn things around. In six starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Sadler only has one top-10 and five finishes of 20th or worse.

Stewart OK after fire erupts in No. 20:

Tony Stewart suffered minor burns on his right elbow and right thigh after blowing an engine and having his Chevy burst into flames. Stewart quickly exited the car but was licked by the flames enough to cause first degree burns.

Stewart led 43 laps and was running in the top ten when his engine let go. Stewart finished 31rst and fell six spots to 11th in points.

Wallace scoots to third overall:

Rusty's "last call" is shaping up to be something to pay attention to - as Wallace moves to third in Cup series points. After a lackluster year in 2004, the No. 2 Dodge team is starting to look like they still have a smidge of life left in them.

Wallace has five top-10's and hasn't finished worse than 27th.

"We were tight all day," said Wallace. "We finally got balanced there at the end, then when the clouds came out it got a little free. We were a little loose at the end. Overall it was a good day. We're looking at the big picture and we moved up to third in the points today.our goals are to win and be a part of the chase.

Veterans peppering Top Ten:

Whoever said youth was everything in NASCAR hasn't been paying attention to what is going on amongst the top ten.

Wallace and Mark Martin are both retiring this year and are both solidly in the top ten right now. The youngest driver is Kurt Busch at 26. The average age amongst the top ten is 35.

Oddly enough, the main drivers involved in the silly season rumor mill right now are all under the age of twenty-five.

Earnhardt grabs ninth:

After a horrible few weeks for the No. 8 DEI Chevy team, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. seems to finally be running well again finishing ninth at TMS.

"We are working really hard," said Earnhardt. "I have stepped up my commitment. I started out the year relaxed and allowing these guys to get used to the change first and with me coming in there I didn't really want to push them hard at the start.

"But, we're starting to get into the season. Me and Pete (Rondeau, crew chief) we're starting to work a little harder and demand a little more from ourselves around the race track. We're driving real, real hard to get good finishes for this team and keep them going."

Earnhardt has only three top-10 results this year and three finishes of 24th or worse. He currently sits 15th in point standings.

"I know those guys have been through worse," Earnhardt said. "You know, they had some tough times with Michael (Waltrip). It was good to see them get a good run today too. They've struggled this year, too, with crashing. I'm just trying to run hard and work hard and get kind of semi-close to that top ten for when it counts."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ricky Craven , Kasey Kahne , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing