As the logo turns: Burton's car missing AT&T again

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Richard Childress doesn't know how long he'll have to go without a sponsor on the hood of Jeff Burton's car, which arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway without "AT&T" on its hood.

"All that's up to the court," Childress said Friday. "Where we stand, it's hard to say. It's all legal."

Burton will race in Saturday night's Nextel Cup race in his orange and black No. 31 Chevrolet without the AT&T globe or any mention of the cellular company on the car.

The car arrived in a black hauler with only the No. 31 on its side and crew members wore gray RCR shirts instead of uniforms with the AT&T logo. Burton wore an orange driver's suit adorned only by associate sponsors.

NASCAR banned AT&T from being on the car after winning a recent appeal that overturned a previous decision that has allowed RCR to use the AT&T logo since May 19.

Officials said the car would not have been allowed through inspection or onto the track with the logo.

Childress said AT&T has filed an injunction asking for a court hearing in early September to try to get the decision overturned. Until then he may have to race without a primary sponsor.

"My take on the whole thing is we've been here 14 weeks with AT&T," Childress said. "All you guys have been talking about is the Sprint Chase. AT&T has been doing their deal with Burton. We've both lived in a world together. The world isn't coming to an end.

"Hopefully, at the end of the day we can figure out how we can all live by the same rules."

NASCAR and AT&T have been in a legal dispute since March when AT&T and Cingular, which was on Burton's car, merged. NASCAR argued that its agreement with series sponsor Sprint Nextel disallowed the logo change.

"Cingular was our sponsor and we've got to do everything we can to keep them in the sport," Childress said. "One of the key things was AT&T didn't buy Cingular. They owned Cingular, so we already had an association.

"Hopefully, something will come to a happy ending. Or maybe not happy. None of us may not like it, but we can all live with it."

Childress could not comment on what AT&T's absence on the hood means as far as financial obligations in the contract. He did say it didn't impact his plans to expand to a fourth team.

"We're financially stable," he said. "I'll leave it at that."

David Newton covers Nextel Cup racing for ESPN.com.