Sunday, July 15, 2007
Updated: July 14, 5:11 PM ET
Evernham sees relief in store for Dodge if maker leaves Kahne
By David Newton and Rupen Fofaria
JOLIET, Ill. -- Ray Evernham says having Budweiser on Kasey Kahne's car instead of Dodge next season could provide financial relief to the manufacturer.
"You would think if they got money back with their name on the car it would improve the program and make the cars better," Evernham said before Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.
"I don't think it's any secret we've been trying to give Dodge some relief from their sponsorship."
Kahne has been targeted as one of several drivers who could replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the Budweiser representative. Kyle Busch is also a candidate.
But to have Budweiser on Kahne's hood, Dodge Motorsports would have to agree to surrender the space, and the company has consistently said it plans to move forward with its sponsorship of the No. 9 next season.
Evernham didn't rule out a change.
"First thing somebody has got to lay down some money and say, 'Here's the deal,' " he said. "We're not even to that point yet."
Evernham said he's also talked to other sponsors -- sources said Allstate is one -- about being on Kahne's car and reiterated that Budweiser is talking to other teams.
Among Budweiser's options is staying at Dale Earnhardt Inc., where it has been since 2000.
-- David Newton
Blown tire, blown chances
Parading around the racetrack at a non-competitive pace and driving a roughly patched-together race car, Jamie McMurray silently stewed over the difference between one week.
Last weekend he ended a winless drought by taking the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway. This weekend, he lost a tire and lost a chance at another strong run.
"It's disappointing," he said. "We're just going to try to fix it and ride around and get some points."
Those are some of the hardest words for a competitive driver to utter. The points are important and, by getting back on the track and finishing 38th instead of 41st, he salvaged nine of them. But McMurray was just getting used to the idea of winning and running up front. He was hoping to make a move over the second half of the race to finish up front.
Unexpectedly, he was deprived of that opportunity.
"I knew the tire was going down," McMurray said. "I tried to slow it down, I just couldn't do it fast enough."
More tiring days
Jimmie Johnson and Dave Blaney joined McMurray and others with tire issues. For Johnson and Blaney, the flats led to vicious wrecks that left their cars crippled and the drivers sore.
"It knocked the wind out of me," Johnson said after wrecking on Lap 223. "And I hit my elbow."
Blaney gave fans a scare, too, when his car smashed into the wall and settled in the grass a crumpled mess on Lap 200.
"I'll be feeling that tomorrow," he said.
Neither were seriously injured. Both hit the SAFER barriers at the track's outside wall.
Mark Martin was extra hard on himself after wrecking his primary car during practice on Saturday. He should have been extra proud of his run on Sunday, which concluded with a 14th-place result.
Martin was happy with the No. 01 Chevrolet all weekend, but after a shock adjustment he lost the handle on his car, wrecked and was forced to a backup.
"It's just absolutely inexcusable," he said. "
I'll probably never get over it as long as I live. I've really never seen a shock change make that much of a difference, but that should not have happened."
-- Rupen Fofaria
David Newton covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rupen Fofaria has covered NASCAR for ESPN.com since 2002. He can be reached at email@example.com.