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Growing trend disturbing to Biffle

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- In the wake of a ruling by NASCAR
officials that will make the type of rear shock absorbers used last
week at Dover, Del., by Hendrick Motorsports illegal in the future, Roush
Racing driver Greg Biffle says creativity within the teams is being
quashed.

The rear shocks used by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch in
finishing 1-2 at Dover were ruled legal by the sanctioning
organization after an extensive postrace inspection, but a
technical bulletin will be issued this weekend making the design of
those shocks a no-no in the future.

"I will defend the 48 [Johnson] and the 5 [Busch] team by
saying that if they were using parts in the shocks that were legal,
and they could get their car to come back down to [the required]
height in time to go through inspection through creativity, more
power to them.

"There were some things taken away from us that hurt us earlier
in the season, too."

Biffle, speaking Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, said the
trend toward lack of creativity is also reflected in NASCAR's work
to develop the so-called Car of Tomorrow, a vehicle that moves the
driver toward the center of the car, raises and widens the profile
of the car and adds crushable materials -- all in the interest of
safety.

The new car is nearly ready for an on-track test and NASCAR
hopes to have teams racing it by 2007.

"Everybody is going to have the same thing," Biffle said. "To
me, that's going to be disastrous. I've heard all secondhand
information. I haven't sat down and said, 'What exactly are we
going to be able to do?' but I heard that we're not going to be
able to do this, we're not going to be able to do that."

Biffle pointed out that different drivers like their cars built
and set up differently.

"Like right now, my noses on my race cars are mounted in a
different location than [teammates] Mark Martin's and Matt
Kenseth's because they like the car to drive different," Biffle
said. "I like a little bit looser car. So we're able to make
changes for a driver's style and I think we're going to lose a lot
of that, maybe, in the future."

Biffle, one of the 10 drivers in the 10-race playoff-style Chase
for the Nextel Cup championship, said he isn't against the concept of the Car
of Tomorrow.

"I agree with the bigger car being away from the driver's side
more -- being a little taller -- all of those things are good," he
said. "But they still have to let us build our own race car."

No crystal ball
Tony Stewart would much rather remain a race
driver and leave the prognosticating to others.

Stewart finished 18th at Dover, the first time he has finished
worse than eighth in 14 races. He fell from first to a tie for
fifth in the standings, heading into Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 trailing
new leader Jimmie Johnson by 23 points.

Asked when he will have to go into catch-up mode, Stewart shook
his head and said, "Yeah, Homestead [Fla.].

"You can ask me that question after we run Sunday and the
answer may be totally different. It's strictly a week-to-week
deal."

Stewart, never one to hide his feelings, added, "The thing that
has amazed me is that most of the questions I'm answering today are
all theoretical. Well, I'm not a philosopher.

"None of us can predict this. If we could, we'd be bookies in
Las Vegas making millions of dollars betting on these races instead
of driving in them. And it's a heck of a lot safer sitting in a
chair in that dark room, letting cocktail waitresses bring you
drinks. I don't have the answers. Nobody has the answers."

Pink awareness
Casey Mears will drive a pink No. 41 Chip
Ganassi Racing Dodge at all five Nextel Cup races in October in
honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It's the second year in a row that Mears' car will sport the
special paint job and carry the logo of the Breast Cancer Research
Foundation.

"This year we're a lot better prepared for it," Mears said.
"We had a special paint scheme this year on my helmet and we're
going to auction that off. That's going to go to the foundation,
and my suits and all that stuff."

Mears said all proceeds from that auction, as well as the sale
of special diecast cars through Target, the Ganassi team and his
own Web site, www.caseymears.com, will go to breast cancer
research.

Sterling TV
NASCAR star Sterling Marlin has a doubleheader
scheduled Sunday, running the Cup race in the afternoon and
appearing on the WB Network's "Blue Collar TV" show that night.

Marlin taped his part of the show, appearing in a comedy sketch,
earlier this year in Atlanta, Ga.

The weekly show comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry
the Cable Guy and Heath Hyche.

Spark plugs
Rusty Wallace, second in the points, remains the
only driver among the top 40 running at the end of every race this
season. … The top winners at Talladega are the late Dale
Earnhardt, with 10 Cup victories, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., with
five. … Fifty-three of the 72 races run at Talladega have been
won from the top 10. … Bobby Labonte, who won here in May 1998,
is the last driver to win from the pole on the 2.66-mile oval.