Ikansas Notebook:/I Sunday

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Richard Childress Racing unveiled its paint scheme Sunday at Kansas Speedway for Kevin Harvick’s car for 2002, and it doesn’t include the No. 3.

Harvick’s car will be painted silver, with black adorning the side of the car from the number on back.

Harvick was driving a white No. 29 this season after replacing Dale Earnhardt, who had become synonymous with the black No. 3. Earnhardt’s number could be retired.

“The numbers belong to NASCAR, and NASCAR controls the numbers,” Childress said. “It’s not their policy to retire numbers, but we’re talking to them heavily about retiring the No. 3. If not, we have some plans. We would do something with the No. 3 that we have registered and stylized with Dale Earnhardt that makes it famous.

“But right now, we’re just in conversations with NASCAR, and hopefully by Atlanta we’ll be able to come up with an answer. I do understand that we’re going to be able to keep it and nobody else will be able to get it but RCR. So again, we’re waiting to see what their final answer will be.”

“Hopefully this puts a little bit of pressure on NASCAR to do what is right with the No. 3 car,” Harvick said.

Harvick, who has won twice in his rookie season, has created his own identity with the No. 29, so the team and sponsor decided to keep him with that number.

“The 29 is Kevin’s number, and that’s the number he’s making famous today,” Childress said.

The reason to paint the car silver and black is simple: Those are the sponsor’s colors.

“The car will be white for this season,” Harvick said. “That’s important for the team, myself and Goodwrench,” Harvick said. “Silver and black are GM Goodwrench’s colors. No one in the garage can ask for a better sponsor than the one we’ve got, and we’ll proudly display their colors next season.”

Trouble in Turn 1 – On the First Lap: The inaugural Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway started with a bang Sunday. Before the field was through the first turn on the first lap, cars were spinning and hitting the wall.

Stacy Compton was trying to get to the inside groove, but Casey Atwood was there. The two made contact, and Atwood spun up the track. John Andretti plowed into the side of Atwood’s car. Behind them, Rusty Wallace punted Ricky Craven, who was tagged by Jimmy Spencer.

“Everybody was scrambling, trying to get to the bottom on that first lap,” Atwood said. “I knew from past experience with him that he wasn’t going to give me much room going into Turn 1. If I had backed out and let him in, we’d still be out there racing. I don’t think he should have cut down, either…I really don’t think it was my fault from what I saw in the car. I should have gotten a little bit more room.”

Compton, who later spun off Turn 2, agreed.

“I apologize,” Compton said. “I thought I was clear. I looked back and saw Casey on the straightaway and thought I was clear. Apparently I wasn’t.”

Atwood started fifth, with Andretti 12th in a car many figured would contend Sunday.

“It’s real unfortunate because it’s the first corner of the first race here,” Andretti said. “It’s really frustrating for us. It’s been this way all year. I told (team owner) Kyle (Petty), ‘Why can’t anything good happen to this race team?’”

Yellow Fever Hits Kansas: The first caution was only the start. There were six cautions in the first 82 laps, with three single-car yellows involving Buckshot Jones, Kurt Busch and Compton.

On Lap 68, Jerry Nadeau got in the back of Ward Burton, who collided with Todd Bodine as the two slid up the track. Burton was fine, though he was hopping mad.

Burton waited for Nadeau to come back around and threw his heel pads at Nadeau’s car.

“I’ve gotten the hell knocked out of me a bunch of times this year, and it gets frustrating,” Burton said. “It just makes you mad. I’m not upset with the season. I’m just upset with people running over me. I’m not wrecking other people, and if I do it’s very seldom.

“I’m just tired of it. We’ll talk about it next week, but (Nadeau) did it, and I’m tired of it, so I vented my frustration on him.”

Gordon’s Team Has Special Guest: Matt Dahl, the 15-year-old son of the late United Airlines pilot Jason Dahl, attended Sunday’s race as a guest of Jeff Gordon. Jason Dahl was the pilot of Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania after being hijacked Sept. 11 after taking off from Newark, N.J.

One of Matt Dahl’s dreams was to go to a NASCAR race and meet Gordon, and his dad expressed that opinion to Rob Quillen, a passenger who sat next to Jason Dahl on a Sept. 10 flight. Quillen, who had a customer-service outing scheduled for Kansas, promised some tickets.

After Sept. 11, Quillen kept his promise – and then some. He contacted Gordon’s public-relations firm, which helped finalize plans to bring Matt to the race. Matt, who was recently diagnosed with epilepsy, received a long ovation after he was introduced at the drivers’ meeting Sunday morning. He also went to the chapel service with Gordon.

NASCAR - Stay Off the Apron: During the Winston Cup drivers and crew chiefs meeting, NASCAR’s David Hoots said he “strongly suggests” that drivers don’t try to pass on the apron during Sunday’s race. But Hoots said there would not be an “out-of-bounds” line like at Daytona and Talladega. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one driver who was thankful of that after he had to go to the apron to make a pass on the frontstretch.

First Time Pole Winners Find Trouble: Jason Leffler was trying to avoid a similar fate that befell the other first-time pole winners in 2001.

Stacy Compton won his first pole at Talladega Superspeedway in April but blew an engine and finished 43rd. Ryan Newman won his first career pole at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May but crashed and finished 43rd.

Jeff Green got his first pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in August but crashed and finished 42nd. Kurt Busch was a first-time pole winner at Darlington Raceway in September but – you guessed it – crashed and finished 39th.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001, Kansas 400

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