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Red Sox owner may but into Roush

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Baseball's champion could be teaming
up with NASCAR's.

Looking to tap into the popularity of the World Series-winning
Boston Red Sox, Roush Racing has had preliminary talks with Boston
owner John Henry about forming a possible partnership.

Rumors circulating around Daytona International Speedway on
Thursday had Henry possibly buying a stake in the lucrative Roush
organization. But Roush general manager Geoff Smith said any talks
with the baseball owner concerned cross-promotion with the Red Sox.

"Jack Roush as long as he lives is going to want to control and
operate these race teams,'' Smith said. "Not to rule out that
there isn't a proposition that could be advanced for some sort of
affiliation at some time, but right now we like the prospect of an
affiliation from a marketing standpoint.

Henry did not immediately return an e-mail request for comment.

Garage insiders have described Henry as a "racing junkie'' who
competes in a high-tech computerized NASCAR league on his own
personal simulator. He attended last year's NASCAR race in New
Hampshire, and was a guest of NASCAR at their December awards
banquet in New York City.

Henry was also spotted at NASCAR's Daytona headquarters last
week.

Roush officials, meanwhile, were his guest at Game 4 of the AL
Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

Smith said the Roush teams, which include reigning Nextel Cup
champion Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards,
are interested in tapping into the Red Sox fan base and possibly
carrying the team paint scheme on one of their cars at the New
Hampshire race.

"I think right now John is just taking a harder look at
NASCAR,'' Smith said.

Burning rubber
Goodyear officials pulled another 600 tires out
of circulation Thursday because of a manufacturer problem that was
causing them to either blister or lose the tread.

NASCAR's only tire supplier had already called back 300 tires
because the same problems surfaced last weekend. In all, Goodyear
took 900 tires from the same group of serial numbers that they
feared might suffer from "tread delamination.''

"We want to do everything we can to provide the best product we
can,'' said Goodyear's Stu Grant. "We met with NASCAR at 7 o'clock
this morning after we got our data and told them what we were going
to do, explained our results.''

Goodyear officials said they actually only had problems with
eight tires, but pulled the rest as a precaution before the twin
qualifying races. Grant said Goodyear workers had been through the
Nextel Cup garage Thursday morning to take the remaining tires from
the teams.

Grant insisted there would not be a tire shortage for Sunday's
season-opening Daytona 500.

Ryan Pemberton, crew chief for Joe Nemechek, said Goodyear took
a dozen tires from them. Nemechek had problems with two this week.

But Pemberton said he was more concerned about the tires
overheating than he was about the tread separation.

"The tires are running extremely hot and we are very concerned
about that,'' Pemberton said. "Goodyear may have solved this one
problem, but the new problem is the tires are running at about 280
degrees and at most they should be around 250.

"It is just a lot of worries right now for the biggest race of
the year.''

Goodyear officials said there were no tire problems in either of
Thursday's qualifying races.

Martin's best hope torn up
Mark Martin thought he had a good chance to win his
final Daytona 500.

Then he was caught up in an accident in one of Thursday's
qualifying races that damaged his No. 6 Ford.

"I believe I could win the Daytona 500 with that car, but I
don't know if they can fix that,'' Martin said.

Hands on his hips and a look of a disgust on his face, Martin
watched helplessly as his Roush Racing team tried to repair the
damage. Martin is retiring from full-time competition at the end of
the season and wants badly to add a Daytona 500 win to his resume.

Crew chief Pat Tryson said the team would do everything possible
to fix the damage because the car was far superior to the backup.

"Our plan right now is to not practice on Friday and just get
it ready,'' Tryson said. "Mark doesn't care if he practices at
all, but we want to practice on Saturday just to make sure
everything is OK.''