Kyle Busch ticked off after practice scrape
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kyle Busch walked away from a banged-up car shaking his head, clearly miffed about a scrape in the final practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, who'll start on the outside of the front row in the Kobalt Tools 500, tangled with Boris Said coming onto the back straightaway and was forced to park his Toyota after getting in 37 practice laps. While the damage around the right rear tire was mainly cosmetic, that didn't improve Busch's mood.
"You've got guys who don't belong out there," he said. "He's off the pace at every track we've been to. But he keeps getting in on owner points."
Said drives for Latitude 43 Motorsports, a new venture started by a Vermont businessman who bought the No. 26 team from Roush Fenway Racing, inheriting its points from a year ago. Since that team finished 22nd in the Cup standings, Said is guaranteed entry into the first five races of 2010.
"I'm out there minding my own business, running my car at the bottom of the track," Busch said. "He's at the top, then all of a sudden he wants to run in the middle on the straightaway. Usually if you're running at the top, you stay up there."
Said, who's gotten into the last three races based on his owner points, managed only two laps in his final tuneup for the race. He was next-to-last on the speed chart, beating out rookie Kevin Conway.
GOLDEN GEOFF: Geoff Bodine is still basking in the golden glow of the Olympic bobsled that bears his name.
An older Bo-Dyn sled was on display in the media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway, commemorating the triumph of a program that made it to the top of the medal stand with the help of Bodine's finances and expertise. The U.S. four-man team, driving a sled known as the "Night Train," won the first U.S. gold in the event since 1948.
"I'm in awe of what happened," said Bodine, a longtime NASCAR driver who was on hand in Vancouver to cheer the American sled driven by Steve Holcomb. "I'm just in awe of the experience. It was so cool to hang out with people from all over the world.
"I couldn't understand them most of the time," he jokingly added. "There was a lot of head nodding."
Bodine said the biggest thrill was being at a sporting event where athletes represented entire countries, not just a group of fans.
"When you win in NASCAR, you have your fan base," he said. "But in the Olympics, you have a whole country cheering for you. It's very humbling to be a part of that. That's a very big playground they're playing on."
Bodine also noted that all he heard in Vancouver were cheers. No booing allowed.
"When someone falls down, they wait for the athlete to get up and they all cheer," he said. "When someone wins, they all cheer. In racing, you get a lot of boos. But in the Olympics, everyone cheers. No one boos. They appreciate what the athlete has done. It's just incredible to be around that environment."
Two of the bobsled gold medalists, Holcomb and Steve Mesler, were on hand Saturday to cheer the 60-year-old Bodine as he made his first appearance in the truck series since 2004. Unfortunately, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Dodge didn't have as much success as the Night Train.
Bodine went out with a gear problem and finished 26th, but he hopes to get back on the track soon.
"It's very hard for someone my age to get a ride," Bodine said. "But I am NOT retired. Everywhere I go, I have to remind people I am not retired."
FEUDIN' DRIVERS: Juan Pablo Montoya said he's patched things up with Jamie McMurray.
Montoya blew up at his new Chip Ganassi teammate after a wreck in last week's race at Las Vegas. The two were running ninth and 10th midway through the race when McMurray lost control of his car and ran into Montoya.
Montoya unleashed words not fit for print on the team radio, and his wife weighed in on Twitter with a Spanish post that, roughly translated, said the McDonald's clown must have been driving McMurray's car.
But they've reached a truce.
"He sent me a text saying la-la-la-la and he was sorry and the whole thing," Montoya said. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. It happens.' It's racing. Move on. I was really (ticked) at the time because we (did not finish) the week before with an engine problem. And being taken out by your teammate is something you really don't expect, but it happens."
TICKETS, GET YOUR TICKETS: The Atlanta track has struggled to sell tickets for its spring race, which has frequently been plagued by inclement weather.
But a promising forecast could lead to a big walk-up crowd Sunday.
The track plans to bring in extra ticket sellers to accommodate the demand that figures to be spurred by a forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s.
Then again, the turnout was rather sparse for Saturday's truck race, with huge sections completely empty and plenty of available seats along the front straightaway despite a sunny day and the temperature approaching 60.
REMEMBERING SCOTT: The Sprint Cup cars will be bearing a special commemorative decal honoring Wendell Scott's first race in NASCAR's top series on March 4, 1961.
Wendell went on to become the first African-American to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup series in 1963, overcoming racial discrimination in a sport still dominated by whites.
"This is enormous for our family in so many ways," said Sybil Scott, daughter of the late driver. "He would want the young drivers coming up today to be inspired."
Ryan Gifford, who takes part in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, visited with Scott's family earlier this year as part of a reality television show.
"It really showed me what he went through to open the door for someone like myself," Gifford said. "I couldn't be more grateful."
SPARK PLUGS: Kurt Busch is ready to try out drag racing. He bought a 1970 Dodge Challenger on eBay for $15,000 and will make his debut at the Gatornationals next week, an off week for the Sprint Cup series. "I guess I can't quite correlate it to Danica (Patrick) coming to NASCAR, but Kurt's going drag racing," he said. ... Nineteen-year-old Austin Dillon finished 10th in Saturday's truck race, his best showing in four career starts in the series. Dillon is the grandson of team owner Richard Childress.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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