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Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
By David NewtonThe ball is in the court of Richard Petty as to whether there is a merger/partnership between Petty Enterprises and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. George Gillett, the majority owner of GEM, said he hoped to maintain at least a commercial relationship with the Pettys regarding their exchange of engines and chassis. "Whether it goes further, that's up to Richard," Gillett said. Petty announced this past week that he is moving Petty Enterprises from Level Cross, N.C., into the Robert Yates Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C. He said the move is being made independent of talks with any organization wishing to partner with his. Gillett has expressed an interest in combining the two companies in a manner that would allow Petty Enterprises to maintain an identity. He would not say whether talks were ongoing, but did acknowledge a recent trip to the Victory Junction Gang Camp that the Pettys run for chronically ill children. "I don't know if I've cried as an adult as much as I did there," Gillett said.
By David NewtonPole-sitter Carl Edwards led the first 78 laps and 87 overall, but engine problems left him with a 42nd-place finish. "I was out there just having a blast," Edwards said. "I could go just about as fast as I wanted, so you don't get that very often. It's too bad it blew up."
By Angelique S. ChengelisShortly after his Cup debut, Sam Hornish Jr. got an unexpected visit in the garage area from Brian Vickers. Vickers congratulated him on his run and wished him well in his new racing endeavor. It was the type of positive feedback a former Indianapolis 500 winner could use after completing his first Nextel Cup race. Hornish finished 30th in Sunday's race at Phoenix, two laps off the lead. "I had a lot of fun out there," said Hornish, who on Saturday made official his move to full-time Cup racing next season in Roger Penske's third car. "It was a long day, for sure, but I was pretty happy with the car. The Mobil 1 Dodge ran well all day -- the driver's obviously lacking a little bit right now, still learning as much as I can. "I am just glad I didn't take anyone out or hit anything. We'll go to Miami with one race under my belt and a little bit less of a rookie, I guess." Hornish entered the race determined to finish it and, most importantly, to stay out of trouble. "I had two main goals today: (A) was to not get into an accident with Jimmie [Johnson] or Jeff [Gordon] and (B) was not get into an accident with [Penske teammates] Kurt [Busch] or Ryan [Newman]. I should say they both were my No. 1 concern. Either way, I was going to be in a lot of trouble if I had any trouble with any of the four of those guys, so I did my best to not get in the way. It was important for me to get as many laps as we could. I wanted to be able to bring it home, and we got the maximum for what we could get."
By Terry BlountFrench Canadian and former open-wheel racer Patrick Carpentier, making his first Cup start on an oval track, finished 33rd in the No. 10 Dodge. "It's so hard," Carpentier said. "You have to be so smooth that it's almost impossible. The car just slides. "Every time we put on new tires, I thought, 'Yeah, this is good. I got it now.' Then 10 laps later, I was back battling the car again." Former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve wasn't running at the end. He crashed on Lap 138 after colliding with Kasey Kahne. "I knew someone was inside me, so I was paying attention to that," said Villeneuve, who finished 41st. "Just when I was told someone was outside me [Kahne], I got in the wall. It's too bad."
By Terry Blount
By Angelique S. Chengelis
By Terry BlountKasey Kahne had a race he would like to forget. After banging sheet metal with Jacques Villeneuve, Kahne slammed into the outside wall nine laps later, ending his day. "I drove like an idiot all day and finally crashed," Kahne said. "I think I hit plenty of cars and plenty of walls. Our car was not very good, but that last thing was driver error. There's only one race left, so I'm happy about that."