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Spin does no harm to Stewart
By BRANT JAMES
Published November 19, 2005
HOMESTEAD - Tony Stewart's championship hopes were spun, shaken, but ultimately undamaged during the final practice of the Nextel Cup season Friday night.
Stewart was running alone when his car wiggled in Turn 3 and spun near the wall, but he brought it under control after spinning twice and briefly cutting down onto the grass.
Because qualifying is today, Stewart could have qualified a backup car without penalty. He didn't want to lose the primary car, however. He won the Brickyard 400 for the first time this summer in the same car.
Stewart leads Jimmie Johnson by 52 points.
DESERVING: Team owner Jack Roush, whose cars claim half the 10 Chase for the Championship spots but has a scant mathematical chance of winning a third straight title, said it would be a "travesty" if Stewart does not.
"He certainly had the kind of luck going for him that we had in 2003 ( Matt Kenseth) and 2004 ( Kurt Busch), and he's had better performance than I've had in those same years," Roush said. "If he can't win this year, then it's real clear that I shouldn't have won the other two, which I'd hate to give back more than one of them."
Stewart is tied for the series lead with five wins and leads in top fives (16), top 10s (24) and laps led (1,845).
Roush's Carl Edwards is 87 back and Greg Biffle is 102 behind.
INFAMOUS: Busch's public scrutiny after he was cited last week for criminal reckless driving outside Phoenix just got worse. His incident report was linked as the featured document on the www.thesmokinggun.com which catalogs celebrity misdeeds.
Roush said Busch will not participate this weekend in the new "procedure" of the former champion helping to lower his title flag. He was unsure if Busch will attend the postseason banquet.
"(Former Busch crew chief) Jimmy Fennig and I will go up and take the flag, but I don't know about the banquet," Roush said. "I'm not sure what convention requires or what Nextel will require there."
CHANGES: NASCAR is likely to change the weekend impound procedure it introduced this year and planned to implement further in 2006. A typical impound schedule - designed to reduce team costs and man hours at the track - consisted of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and impounding the cars before a Sunday race. No specifics have been announced. Ongoing television negotiations and the desire to have more ontrack activity likely played a part.
LOCAL MOTION: Zephyrhills native David Reutimann had the sixth-fastest speed in the second Busch Series practice Friday as he attempts to qualify Michael Waltrip's No.98 Chevrolet for today's Ford 300. Qualifying is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Reutimann, a truck series regular, has raced once in the Nextel Cup series this season, finishing 22nd at Charlotte.
SPARK PLUGS: Jeff Gordon led the final Nextel Cup practice with a lap at 175.473 mph around the 1.5-mile oval. Ryan Newman led the first practice (174.588)in a year-old Dodge Intrepid. Newman and Evernham Motorsports' Kasey Kahne elected to use the phased-out models instead of the new Charger that has been balky, especially on 1.5-mile tracks. ... St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais and girlfriend Claire began competing in the Baja 1000 desert race Friday on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Bourdais will drive in the Race of Champions on Dec.3 in Paris and then, "I turn my cell phone off and take some time," he said.