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Friday, October 7, 2005
Updated: October 8, 2:48 PM ET
Loomis will finish '05 with Hendrick

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Robbie Loomis, Jeff Gordon's former crew chief, will take two weeks off after the Nextel Cup season before moving to Petty Enterprises to become vice president of race operations.

Loomis, who has been Gordon's crew chief since the middle of the 2000 Winston Cup season, stepped down last month after Gordon did not qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. He is staying on as a consultant for Gordon and car owner Rick Hendrick until the season ends.

"Right now, I'm able to take a step back and look at things a little differently, and that's really good," Loomis said Friday after a practice session for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway. "The on-track stuff I'm concentrating on is all with the Hendrick team, but I can think a little bit about the big-picture stuff with the Pettys."

Asked how it would feel to help Richard Petty's team regain some of its lost stature in the Cup series, Loomis grinned and said, "I think everybody would like to see the King winning some races and doing well. Even Rick said he'd like to see that and he'd be willing to help if he could."

Loomis spent 11 seasons with Petty Enterprises before joining Gordon's team.

At a sponsor's event Wednesday in Overland Park, Kan., Kyle Petty said he was happy to let Loomis set the timetable for the switch -- and credited his father with making it happen.

"Kyle Petty didn't steal Robbie back from Jeff," he said. "Richard Petty stole Robbie back from Jeff."

Show for Sprint
Sunday's Banquet 400 will be the first Nextel Cup race at Kansas Speedway since the merger that created Sprint Nextel.

Several drivers and NASCAR officials welcomed employees of the new telecom giant's subsidiary, Sprint Communications Co., to the series sponsorship fold with "Nextel Experience" activities at the Sprint campus in Overland Park.

More than 7,000 of the campus' 13,500 employees attended the activities, which included driver appearances and -- for those willing to sign a waiver -- turns in stock car driving simulators.

Kyle Petty, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler fielded questions from selected employees -- including one who, apparently not knowing that Sadler raises Walker hunting dogs in the offseason, asked whether he had any pets.

"I have 32 dogs," Sadler said. "I've been raising dogs for about 15 years. I'm not married. I don't have any kids. They're kind of like my kids when I go home."

Proud Papa
Dale Jarrett had been scheduled to fly home to Hickory, N.C., on Friday night to escort his daughter Natalee in her high school homecoming court.

Then word came that the football game had been rained out, and postponed to Monday -- meaning Jarrett didn't have to make a quick round trip after Friday's Nextel Cup practice. He still plans to escort Natalee on Monday night, and this time he'll be able to get there early enough for pictures.

"I'm going to be proud regardless of if Natalee wins or not," Jarrett said. "I don't think that's the thing. To me, it says a lot whenever they take only six young ladies from her entire senior class, and the students voted her as one of those six to be on the homecoming court. That says enough to me already about the type of young lady that she is."

Spark Plugs
Kevin Harvick left Kansas Speedway after Busch Series qualifying to return to his home in Winston-Salem, N.C., but expected to return for Saturday's race and Sunday's Nextel Cup event. Harvick's father-in-law, John Paul Linville, has been battling a lingering illness. If Harvick does not return Saturday, Jeff Burton will drive his car in the Busch race and Clint Bowyer is on standby for Cup qualifying. … Road course specialist Boris Said will make his first appearance at Kansas Speedway in the 1.5-mile tri-oval's five-year history, in Sunday's Banquet 400. It will be Said's 10th Nextel Cup event of the year, extending his career high for Cup starts in a season.