NASCAR might lower speeds after laps near 200 mph

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- NASCAR officials are monitoring the situation to determine if changes are needed this weekend after the Nextel Cup drivers posted speeds approaching 200 mph in both practice sessions Friday.

Kasey Kahne turned a lap at 198.685 mph in the first practice. Robby Gordon had the best lap in the second practice at 197.423 mph in the heat of the afternoon.

"Right now we don't think it's a problem," said NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter. "With the draft and the rate of closure so much better here, we feel the real speed is around 195. But we'll keep looking at it and see what happens in qualifying [Saturday]."

NASCAR officials could decide to make the holes in the restrictor plates smaller to further limit air intake and reduce horsepower.

NASCAR did that for the Busch cars Friday, making the plate opening 1/32nd of an inch smaller after Mike Wallace posted a lap at more than 197 mph on Thursday.

Jeff Gordon had an interesting comparison when asked Friday about Tony Stewart's comments critical of NASCAR:

"He's the Rosie O'Donnell of NASCAR right now," Gordon said with a laugh. "Tony is bringing a lot of heat on himself."

But was Stewart right to question the validity of debris cautions?

"There have been some cautions that were questionable to a lot of us," Gordon said. "But never once did I think NASCAR was trying to fix a race and change the outcome of a race."

• Team owner/driver Michael Waltrip said last weekend at Phoenix, when he failed to qualify for the seventh consecutive Nextel Cup race, was his lowest point of the season.

"I wanted to quit," Waltrip said. "Saturday night I watched my cars [David Reutimann in the No. 00 Toyota and Dale Jarrett in the No. 44 Camry] run crappy. I was depressed and said, 'This sucks.'

"But Monday you go test and Tuesday you see the optimism in the guys faces in what they've built to come here. By Thursday, you're thinking, 'I'm bigger than this. It ain't gonna get me.' And Friday you say, "We're gonna turn this stuff around right now.' "

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.