Odds and ends after Phoenix

November, 16, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I was catching up on leftover thoughts during the Phoenix-to-Philadelphia-to-Charlotte red-eye home.

OK, so there was a nap in between.

But there were a lot of side stories that might have been overlooked while the focus was on the closest Chase in history -- Denny Hamlin is 15 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson and 46 up on Kevin Harvick -- after Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Here are a few:

The RPM saga: Although Richard Petty Motorsports made it to PIR and will be in Homestead-Miami for the season finale, what's going on behind the scenes remains intriguing.

I'm told that most of the work normally done on the RPM cars has moved to Roush Fenway Racing in the adjacent shop in Concord, N.C. Whether that's to save money or to ensure the cars don't get released without the latest installment check, nobody could verify.

Bottom line, Roush Fenway wants to keep RPM alive not only for Ford but also for its chassis and engine-rental business.

As for next year, Richard Petty says things remain in limbo while he continues to talk to investors about taking over majority interest from financially strapped George Gillett.

And the Charlotte television report that Petty received an infusion of money from Ray Evernham, who's still owed a large sum of money from Gillett after selling majority interest of Evernham Motorsports in 2007, was not true. But Evernham has made provisions to help Petty if needed.

Limbo Part II: Scott Speed likely will drive in his last Sprint Cup race for Red Bull Racing at Homestead. Team officials are confident that Brian Vickers, sidelined in the spring after blood clots were discovered, will pass all tests when he is taken off blood thinners in the near future and be ready to retake his spot in the No. 83.

Kasey Kahne will drive the car currently occupied by Speed.

Speed said he has no clue what he'll do in 2011, in part because Red Bull Racing hasn't given him permission to talk to other teams.

Busch-whacked II: Remember Kurt Busch's run-in with Avondale's finest while leaving PIR in 2005? Little brother Kyle had a little run-in leaving the track on Sunday night.

Driver J.J. Yeley tweeted that while leaving the track, "Kyle Busch tried to cut the exit line. Almost ran over a PIR employee."

He also tweeted that Busch was stopped by local law enforcement. Team and track officials said Busch didn't hit anybody with his car and wasn't ticketed or arrested.

Kurt wasn't so lucky in 2005. He was cited for reckless driving by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and suspended for the final two races by the Roush Fenway team he was leaving for Penske Racing after the season.

Kurt went on to perform 50 hours of community service and became friends with local sheriff Joe Arpaio.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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