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Slick conditions trip up drivers

Kyle Busch's crew worked hard Saturday afternoon to keep him from having to use a backup car in today's Coca-Cola 600. Busch, who qualified 17th, smacked the wall early in practice.

By KELLIE DIXON
Published May 27, 2007


CONCORD, N.C. - Kyle Busch's crew worked hard Saturday afternoon to keep him from having to use a backup car in today's Coca-Cola 600. Busch, who qualified 17th, smacked the wall early in practice.

Apparently, Busch crashed because he had trouble getting the hard tires to grip on Lowe's Motor Speedway during the afternoon. The slick conditions were a common complaint among drivers, and Busch wasn't the only one to wreck Saturday. Clint Bowyer hit the wall during the first practice.

Matt Kenseth, who starts fifth today, said the track is the same as last year but might be a little slicker.

"The track has worn a little bit, and we're still running that hard old tire, " Kenseth said.

FAMILY TIES: Richard Childress had a tough time watching his grandson, Austin Dillon, race for the win in the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge Late Models on Friday. Dillon, running the black No. 3, started seventh and took the lead on Lap 20, with five to go. The 16-year-old battled veteran Jack Pennington and stayed just ahead of Bowyer.

"I don't think I've been more nervous trying to win the Daytona 500, " Childress said. "Seeing the black No. 3 back up there and my family running it, it's just great."

PIT STOP: The Coca-Cola 600 doesn't just mentally and physically drain drivers but pit crews as well. Being ready for extra stops is something the crew of pole-sitter Ryan Newman eagerly anticipates. Their goal, not unlike any other crew, is to make the last pit stop as efficient as the first. The difference is Newman's crew likes stops and is conditioned to handle them.

"None of our guys are sitting on the box with towels around them like they're about to pass out, " pit crew coach Trent Cherry said. "You look down pit road at some of the teams and this race kills them."

JUNIOR TALKS: If Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes to Joe Gibbs Racing, team officials are adamant it won't be with sponsor Budweiser. JGR is one of three Chevrolet teams that have emerged as frontrunners to sign NASCAR's most popular driver. But owner Joe Gibbs insisted Saturday that he won't accept a beer sponsorship at his family business. Earnhardt is closely associated with Budweiser, his longtime sponsor.

MAKING PROGRESS: Kasey Kahne said that running up front in practice this week made his team feel a little bit better. Kahne won both points races at Lowe's in 2006 but has struggled this season, posting one top 10 finish. He starts 18th today. "The last three weeks, we've been a car capable of 15th to 20th, " Kahne said. "We've made some changes trying to make them better. ...We'll see how this weekend goes, but I think we're definitely making progress."