Mears Tops Solo Practice

INDIANAPOLIS - After rain cancelled Friday's track activity, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series was able to fit only one practice in to Saturday's activities. Casey Mears topped the speed charts in the morning at 184.873 mph.

Scott Riggs turned the second-fastest time of the session followed by Kasey Kahne, Ken Schrader and Brian Vickers.

Mike Bliss, Michael Waltrip, Kurt Busch, Elliott Salder and Matt Kenseth rouned out the Top 10.

There were a group of noted drivers who struggled in the first session including Jeff Gordon (27th), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (43rd) and Rusty Wallace (44th).

Join RacingOne for Live Qualifying from Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 4:10 p.m. (ET).

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. held court with the media on Frdiay during the rain delay here at Indy and touched on a variety of topics. Most interesting was the talk of a possible reunification with crew chief Tony Eury, Jr.

"Tony Jr. is awesome," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I've always thought he was going to be one of the best crew chiefs in the business. I do want to work with him again; I think we should."

Speculation is that interim crew chief Steve Hmiel will finish the year calling the shots for Earnhardt, Jr.'s Budweiser Chevrolet. But it appears that Eury, Jr. will head back to the No. 8 team next season as he finished 2005 with Michael Waltrip, who will leave DEI at the end of the year.

Scott Riggs will remain with the MB2 team which will lose sponsor Valvoline to Evernham Motorsports in 2006. The MB2 operation announced a five race sponsorship deal with fast food chain Checkers, which will kick off with Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. beginning with this weekend's Brickyard. Bristol, Talladega, Atlanta and Homestead, will be the other races on this year's sponsorship deal with the possibility Checkers will come on board as the team's full-time backer in 2006.

Kasey Kahne and team owner Ray Evernham announced a multi-year contract extension that will keep the 2004 NEXTEL Cup Rookie-of-the-Year in the No. 9 Dodge. Terms of the deal were not revealed but the extension comes on the heels of last week's court ruling in the case between Kahne and Ford Motor Company.

Evernham will add a third team in 2006 with sponsor Valvoline on board. A driver to join Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield has not yet been named.

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