Elephant races a no-go at New Hampshire

Updated: June 29, 2008, 9:07 PM ET

AP Photo/Joel Page

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in a grumpy mood Friday, but not because the elephant races were called off.

LOUDON, N.H. -- The much-anticipated elephant race is off.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway GM Jerry Gappens hoped to make a big splash in his first NASCAR weekend at the 1-mile oval with a lumbering elephant race as part of the prerace festivities Sunday.

But the circus act will have to wait for another day.

"We didn't know until late [Thursday] that pachyderm permits were required to move an elephant across state lines," Gappens said. "We're disappointed. We don't have time to comply properly with federal procedures."

Fans at NHMS Sunday still will see a concert by Kansas and a motorcycle stunt show.

Junior to media: Leave me alone

Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a little testy Friday when asked again about future plans to move his Nationwide Series team up to Sprint Cup.

"I shouldn't have said anything about that, man," Earnhardt said. "I should have kept it to myself, because I don't want to talk about it in the press. That's personal to me, what I do with my business, and I'm damn sure ain't going to air my timeline out over the media.

"If we feel like we want to do that, we'll do it. We'll let you know and that will be that. I don't want to answer questions about it every week. My [Nationwide] team is doing great. I'd be foolish to make too many changes right now."

Kenseth surging back into Chase picture

Matt Kenseth has moved up 10 spots in the standings in the past six races. The No. 17 Ford ranks 12th, the first time Kenseth has been inside the Chase cutoff since the fifth race of the year.

Kenseth said he has worked hard on improving his chemistry with new crew chief Chip Bolen.

"I think Chip and I have been able to communicate a little bit better," Kenseth said. "And hopefully, I've been able to give them a little better information to get our cars running better.

"Honestly, it's been a little bit of everything. It's been improving in every area. We've been able to try and fine-tune the whole program. I think everybody is working better together right now as a unit. We're getting better on pit road. And the car is getting prepared better."

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Bowyer on board three more years

Bowyer

Clint Bowyer said Friday that he has signed a new contract with Richard Childress Racing for three more years. RCR officials would not confirm a new deal on Friday. Bowyer didn't elaborate, but the contract would keep Bowyer in the No. 07 Chevrolet through the 2011 season.

Bowyer moved up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2006. He was one of the big surprises of the 2007 season, making the Chase and finishing third in the season standings.

Bowyer is 10th in the standings this year, but returns this week to the site of his one and only Cup victory. Bowyer started the 2007 Chase with a victory at New Hampshire.

"You've got to live up to what you did last year, so there's a little bit more pressure," Bowyer said. "You want to be able to back it up."

Ford's Davis to retire

Dan Davis, the director of Ford's racing program for the last 11 years, will retire on Aug. 1 after 32 years with Ford Motor Co.

Brian Wolfe, who has been with Ford for 26 years, will replace Davis.

"Dan has done a great job for the company and its racing program, and he's going to be a tough act to follow," Wolfe said in a Ford news release. "To have this opportunity now to take the racing program forward is a dream come true."

Wolfe, 47, has been a director of product development since 2002, focusing on power train calibration. Wolfe also is an avid amateur drag racer.

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