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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Updated: October 22, 11:16 AM ET
Vickers, Lamar see the positives in sharing Braun Racing ride in 2009

By Mark Ashenfelter
ESPN.com

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Burney Lamar, left, is getting a chance to get his career back on track with Braun Racing.

For Brian Vickers, it's a chance to run an increased Nationwide Series schedule -- gaining what could be helpful seat time during Sprint Cup Series weekends in the process.

For Burney Lamar, it's a second chance to try to build a NASCAR career -- even if it comes three years after he'd hoped to find a home in the series.

For Braun Racing, it's a chance to run its No. 32 car with just one sponsor and two drivers after using multiple sponsors and drivers this season. It may also allow the team to run its No. 10 car more often if sponsorship materializes.

With Jason Leffler a fixture in the team's No. 38 entry, Braun has utilized Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Vickers, among others, in the No. 32 Toyota in 2008. Next year -- with full sponsorship from Dollar General -- Vickers and Lamar will share driving chores behind the wheel.

Lamar will run 18 races with the No. 32 and three additional races in a third car, most likely the No. 10 entry. Vickers will run the remaining 17 races in the No. 32.

"I have got to thank Todd and everyone at Braun Racing for everything this year," said Vickers, who won the Nationwide Series title with Hendrick Motorsports in 2003. "We've had poles, been very, very close to many wins. It's been a very exciting season. And getting Dollar General to re-sign with us, it's been a great partnership. We've learned a lot this year. I'm glad to be back with Braun Racing myself."

Lamar said the deal was finalized so quickly that he nearly missed Nationwide Series practice at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Oct. 9 because he was at a lawyer's office signing the contract just hours before the press conference announcing the No. 32 team's plans.

"Todd Braun and the guys are looking to do a full-time driver [for the No. 32 car in 2010] and Dollar General's looking to do that, and they want to build a solid team," Lamar said. "With the 32 team and the cars they've got and all the guys they've got and Trent [Owens, crew chief], we're going to have a solid team."

Lamar is understandably thankful for the chance to restart his career. He was signed to drive the full schedule for Kevin Harvick Inc. with backing from Dollar General in 2006, but after posting three top-10s in the first eight races he never finished better than 12th.

Following a crash at Dover in September, he was removed from the car for all but one of the remaining races and started just 29 of 35 events on the season. Last year he was still under contract with the team and didn't run in the series. He has tried to qualify for several Sprint Cup Series races with fledgling teams during his hiatus and has made 17 Nationwide Series starts this year.

For the most part, though, those races have been for owners seemingly more interested in qualifying for the races than in running the entire distance, as he has only completed three races. But the time at the track has allowed Lamar to keep his face out there while hoping for an opportunity.

Braun Racing and Dollar General have provided the opportunity; it's up to the driver to make the most of it.

"We're looking to do a lot next year. Those cars run up front every week," Lamar said. "I now have the experience that I didn't have in '06 and I've been driving for [Baker Curb Racing and Day Enterprises], and that's given me the opportunity to be at the racetrack and actually make changes on the car and just log laps.

"We don't finish a lot of races, but it's a lot better than showing up at the racetrack [next year] and never seeing the place before. Now that I have that experience and the time off, I was able to evaluate what I could have done better [at KHI] and what I needed to work on, and that's what I've been working on all this season.

"I'm eager to get my first win and I know those guys have won this year [with Busch] and came close to winning a lot more. So we have pretty high expectations."

Lamar's expectations don't stop with the Nationwide Series, either.

"This shot here, when I want to get out of racing, it's because I want to get out," he said. "I know what this opportunity here [means]. It will get me a chance to run up front, eventually get that first win and then get up to the Cup Series. That's my plan."

Mark Ashenfelter is an editor at ESPN. He can be reached at mark.ashenfelter@espn.com.

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Teams testing new car at Lowe's

Carl Edwards

Edwards

The Nationwide Series' version of the new car began two days of testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Monday. It's the first test at one of the eight 1.5-mile tracks the series races on.

Five teams tested last month at Richmond, and this time Joe Gibbs Racing's Toyotas joined the fray. The other five teams -- Roush Fenway Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing and JD Motorsports -- also returned to action.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said the car is expected to debut at Daytona in February 2010, giving teams next year to work through their current car inventory while slowly building new cars.

"Things have progressed quite nicely," Pemberton said. "All of the manufacturers are out there today with, I think for the most part, the cars the teams used at the test at Richmond last month. It's early yet, but everything's quite favorable. The car turns well in the middle of the corner and they just continue to work on it."

Carl Edwards was among the drivers testing on Monday.

"This car feels pretty good. It's a lot faster than I thought it was going to be," Edwards said. "It's a little different than the other cars we ran [at Richmond]. They're two different tracks, but the car felt good at both of them."

JR Motorsports lands '09 part-time sponsor

It's just a 10-race sponsorship package for JR Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet, but it's a start, as far as the team is concerned. Unilever, the parent company for brands such as Ragu and Klondike, will be on the car for 10 races to be driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Landon Cassill.

How those races are divided will be determined later, but Earnhardt will be in the car for the season opener at Daytona.

Kelley Earnhardt, who runs JR Motorsports for her brother, said the team still needs sponsorship for the remaining 25 races for the No. 5 and for the full season for the No. 88 driven by Brad Keselowski.

"We've got some things working," she said. "I think we'll have it wrapped up within, hopefully, the next 30 days -- which is still too long."

Earnhardt said at Lowe's Motor Speedway that he'll run his two teams only in the races they have sponsorship for, but his sister said both teams will run the full schedule.

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