Talladega Notebook: Friday

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TALLADEGA, Ala. - Michael Waltrip's concerns about qualifying for Sunday's Aaron's 499, what Casey Mears thinks of Kyle Busch and the first major push for the upcoming movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" are just some of the news and notes coming out of Talladega on Friday.

Waltrip Worried
Michael Waltrip admitted he's worried about qualifying his No. 55 NAPA Dodge into Sunday's show and he should be.

Waltrip's outside the top 35 in owners' points and will have to qualify on time, which after running one of the slowest laps in Daytona qualifying, is obviously not his strong suit at plate tracks.

"It (not qualifying) wouldn't be devastating. My definition of devastating has changed over the years. There are a lot more important things than that.

"If we have a problem getting in I’ll probably have to nose around to find another ride to race on Sunday, It's my birthday I can't miss the race," said Waltrip, who will turn 43 on Sunday.

Still Not Seeing Eye to Eye
Casey Mears and Kyle Busch still haven’t spoken since their on-track get together last weekend at Phoenix.

Busch, who made contact with Mears under the red flag, has been trying to get in touch with Mears to apologize for his actions.

"I have not talked to Casey,” said Busch. “I've tried to talk to Casey I left a message with Brian Vickers, who is a very close friend of his and mine, to give him my phone number and I haven't heard back from him."

Busch did offer an apology to Casey and Chip Ganassi during his meeting with the media today in the garage area.

"I owe Casey and Chip Ganassi an apology for all that and NASCAR too for not respecting the red flag and the safety of all the other competitors out there as well too," Busch said. “You take lessons that you learn by doing them. It's hard to teach somebody something without them having to go through that specific ordeal themselves."

Busch’s excuse for not calling Mears was because he did not have his phone number and he doesn’t like getting phone numbers from people to call someone.

From Mears’ standpoint an apology wouldn’t make a difference.

"If he did call, I know that he’d call and apologize because a lot of people told him he should call and apologize, not because he really wants to," Mears said. "I’m glad he didn’t because I wouldn’t have taken it as a true apology anyway.

"The guy is really fast and he's got a lot of talent, but he really does a lot of stupid stuff. It’s across the board, the feeling throughout the garage,” Mears continued. "When he grows up, he’s going to be a real good racecar driver. Right now, he’s got a lot of talent on the track but makes a lot of stupid mistakes."

Blast from the Past
Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. are carrying famous colors on their respective cars this weekend at Talladega.

The DEI teammates of Earnhardt Jr. and Truex Jr. are honoring Dale Earnhardt's Thursday induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame with specially painted cars that resemble the Earnhardt's legendary No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet. Labonte is sporting the STP colors that Richard Petty made famous through-out his career.

Other special NEXTEL Cup paint schemes at Talladega include: Kyle Petty (Schwan's), Jeff Gordon (Pepsi), Ryan Newman (MyCircle), Jamie McMurray (IRWIN), Scott Riggs (Stanley FatMax Xtreme Tools), Greg Biffle (Subway), J.J Yeley (Asthma Control) and Kevin Harvick (Reese's Carmel Cups).

Bump and Run
NASCAR's new softer bumper will take to the track for the first time when the NEXTEL Cup Series cars have their first practice starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET).

Ryan Newman, who has scored top-five finishes in the last two restrictor-plate races, is one of many drivers that agrees with the change and will race no differently when he hits the track in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.

"Ours (bumper) were definitely made to bump, but they weren’t made to bend rear clips on other cars," Newman said. "The bottom line is, I don’t know if that (soft bumpers) will be a big change for us, but I think it’s good."

Newman feels there are some drivers/teams out there that will be affected by the new bumper both in driving and in preparation for this weekend's race.

"I think it’s going to be a big change for other people," Newman said referring to the bumpers made to bend rear clips.

Ricky Bobby Returns
Will Ferrell will return to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the first time since filming his upcoming movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" last season. On Sunday, Ferrell, who plays NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby in the film, will be the grand marshal for the Aaron’s 499.

For the first time this weekend fans will be able to purchase NASCAR-licensed film merchandise. The merchandise will be available in hauler on souvenir row at the race track right in the mix with all the current stars of the NEXTEL Cup circuit.

"We think ‘Talladega Nights’ is going to be a hit with our fans, and they’ll want to join in the fun with the official merchandise from the film,” said Mark Dyer, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing and consumer products.

Can’t make it to the track? Don’t worry, as RacingOne is currently carrying "Talladega Nights" in the FanShop.

Along with Ferrell’s appearance on Sunday, the movie will also be present on a giant billboard in the infield, banners around the track and on Tony Stewart’s No. 33 Old Spice Busch Series car.

Kahne Back in Sprints
Kasey Kahne will return home and to sprint car action during the next NEXTEL Cup off weekend on July 28-29 for the Evergreen State Sprint Challenge at Grays Harbor Raceway.

"I haven't done anything since the Chili Bowl so it will be good to get back in a sprint car," said Kahne, who will be driving a car built by his Kasey Kahne Racing team for the Elma, Washington races.

Wax on Wax Off
Paul Menard spent some time this morning looking for a little aerodynamic advantage for his No. 11 Busch Series car. Menard demonstrated Turtle Wax's synthetic car polish as he waxed his No. 11 show car in front of the media and fans.

New Michigan Race Sponsor
Michigan International Speedway announced today that Carfax will sponsor the August 19 NASCAR Busch Series event for the next three years. This will be the first NASCAR sposnorship of any kind for the company. Tickets for this event and any other event at MIS are currently available on racetickets.com


        

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