NASCAR notes: Cup drivers expecting intense heat at Michigan

  • By Chris Jenkins Associated Press
  • Saturday, August 15, 2009 8:07pm
  • SportsSports

BROOKLYN, Mich.— After watching rain wipe out the races for two Sundays in a row, drivers will have to contend with a different weather element in scorching heat Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

“It’s going to be a battle inside the car,” Kurt Busch said. “You just hope that you’re hydrated enough and that you can keep as much heat out of the car as you can. Mentally, you just have to suck it up and concentrate on driving the race car and not worrying about how hot you are.”

Sunday’s forecast is for temperatures in the high 80s, with only a slight possibility of scattered afternoon thunderstorms. The heat won’t be fun, but drivers will anything over yet another rained-out race.

Jimmie Johnson called for earlier start times to races, perhaps allowing more time to get races in even when rain postpones the action on a Sunday.

“I think we need to start the races early enough so that you can have a rain shower, you can get the track dryers out to dry the track and go back racing and have a chance to complete the event,” Johnson said. “I was thinking the same thing when I was sitting in my bus (last Sunday) knowing we were going to go to our second Monday race.”

Johnson understands the argument for starting races late enough to target fans on the West Coast — he’s from California — but he’d rather have a better chance at racing Sundays instead of Mondays.

“It’s great to target the perfect time zone, the perfect viewing audience, and I understand those factors given a perfect situation,” Johnson said. “But when you race as often as we do and all around the country and weather being an issue, I guess my point of view is from living it … week to week. We should have raced on Sunday and been home on Monday.”

TESTING, TESTING: NASCAR president Mike Helton said officials are close to a decision on the sport’s testing policy for next season. NASCAR banned all testing at racetracks where it sanctions events this season, a move intended to cut costs for teams.

“Right now, the question is, ‘Why do anything different right now?’” Helton said. “And again, I go back to the fact that suspending testing was an economic issue more than anything, and the input that we get from the team owners and the crew chiefs has a lot to weigh in on what we would do if we do anything different.”

Helton also said officials from NASCAR and track ownership group International Speedway Corp. are looking at potential safety changes at Watkins Glen after Sam Hornish Jr.’s multicar accident there Monday.

SPONSOR MOURNS LOSS: Tom Murphy, vice president of corporate brand marketing for series sponsor Sprint, was killed in a car accident in Colorado on Friday.

The company issued a statement remembering Murphy as “cheerful and enthusiastic” and a “highly effective marketing advocate for Sprint and a beloved member of Sprint’s NASCAR team.”

The 45-year-old Murphy had been with the company since 1996. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and three sons, Ethan, John and Thomas. Ethan, 11, sustained minor injuries in the accident.

“All of those at Sprint who knew and worked with Tom express deepest sympathy and concern for his family,” the company said.

LUG NUTS: Kasey Kahne did a recent photo shoot for sponsor Budweiser with a Toyota in the background. Which was odd, given the fact that his team currently races Dodges. “I don’t know why it was,” Kahne said. “I’m Dodge, man. I think I’ll be Dodge next year, truthfully. The Gilletts (team owners) put a car in there to do the photo shoot and I took my pictures and hopefully I don’t have to take my pictures again.” … Polesitter Brian Vickers was fastest in Saturday’s first Sprint Cup practice session, and Mark Martin was fastest in the final session.

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