Eury doesn't get the win he was hoping for as he exits DEI
EURY JR. READY TO START HENDRICK CAREER
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Tony Eury Jr. emerged from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 8 hauler for the last time on Sunday wearing a gray T-shirt with the words "Free Agent" written across the chest."Can't wait until tomorrow morning," he said.
VILLENEUVE HOLDS HIS OWN
For the record, Jacques Villeneuve finished ahead of 22 drivers in the UAW-Ford 500 Sunday.
He also didn't cause any big wrecks, racing like a restrictor-plate pro most of the afternoon.
The fears some drivers had of Villeneuve making his Nextel Cup debut at Talladega proved unfounded. The former Formula One champion had a respectable 21st-place showing, the last car on the lead lap.
"I'm glad I didn't create any problems," Villeneuve said. "The finger was being pointed before the race, and that was understandable. The goal today was not to make any enemies. Overall, it was a great experience."
Villeneuve started on the third row, deliberately fell to the rear early in the race, but gradually worked his way back to the middle of the field.
"Early in the race was tough for some reason," Villeneuve said. "I was really tight. I almost ran into a couple of people because of that, but I'm quite happy with the result."
The French Canadian racer overcame a number of problems Sunday. The ball came off the top of his shifter and he later lost third gear.
Villeneuve also lost radio contact with his crew when a plug came loose, causing NASCAR to black flag him. He came to the pits and fixed the problem.
And Villeneuve brushed the outside wall with 55 laps to go, but kept the car under control.
"We had some things going on, which made it a good day to learn," Villeneuve said. "Next time I think everything will be a little easier."
Villeneuve also explained why he dropped to the rear after the green flag.
"I wanted to learn how to go from the back to the front," Villeneuve said. "But it also was to show respect to the guys in the Chase. I was thankful for them allowing me to race here. It was really special to me to be here, so that was my way of saying thanks."
-- Terry Blount
GEM-PETTY DEAL ON HOLD?Alex Gillett still hopes to work out a partnership with Petty Enterprises, although he admits talks have slowed."What you've got is one of the most storied people in the sport," the co-owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports said. "There is a lot of emotion attached to what they want to do in the future and who they want to move into the future with."I can respect that. If that means give them space or not space. We did it with Ray."Negotiations to merge Gillett with owner Ray Evernham lasted at least four months longer than anticipated because an underground storage tank had to first be removed from Evernham's property in Statesville, N.C., for environmental reasons."A lot of people criticized us for taking too long to close," Gillett said. "Well, nobody asked us the question of why. Each one of these has a life cycle. You can't push it."Meanwhile, Gillett said GEM officials are talking to two or three drivers to replace Scott Riggs in the No. 10 next season. He acknowledged that Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier is a strong candidate even though he has only one Nextel Cup start.David Stremme, who was not re-signed by Chip Ganassi Racing, also is a candidate."I'm not sure if you bring somebody like a Patrick Carpentier and throw him right into Nextel Cup," Gillett said. "So we've got some other good options in the No. 10 car we're exploring. We'll see over the next couple of weeks where that ends up."
-- David Newton
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