Commentary

Talk turns to airplanes when Edwards, Kenseth break silence

Atlanta notebook

Updated: October 28, 2007, 3:22 PM ET
By David Newton, Joe Breeze and Angelique S. Chengelis | ESPN.com

SILENCE NOT GOLDEN

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Matt Kenseth didn't have much choice but to talk to Carl Edwards on Sunday.

The two were paired in the back of a pickup truck for a lap around Atlanta Motor Speedway during pre-race introductions for the seventh race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

EARNHARDT DEBUT FOR HMS

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt

Much of the focus on the Monday-Tuesday Car of Tomorrow test at AMS will be on Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will make his debut in a Hendrick Motorsports car.

Earnhardt was given permission from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to test the car he'll drive next season.

Future HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson said it will be a big step.

"It's really going to be the icebreaker for the way things work at HMS," he said. "We've been fortunate to have [Earnhardt crew chief Tony] Eury Jr. in here working and getting to understand the system. Time is everything and the off-season is so short.

"Every chance we can have to get Junior into a car around our engineers and management and the other drivers is only going to help. So I'm really happy to hear that he's going to be able to drive a Hendrick car in the Atlanta test."

Kyle Busch, the driver Earnhardt will replace, also will be working for his future owner. He will be in the No. 18 driven by J.J. Yeley, who will be in the No. 96 car at Hall of Fame Racing.

-- David Newton

"More times than not, if there's ever conflict, the next week you end up driving around in the truck together," Kenseth said with a smile. "Everybody laughs about it. It's one of those things that seems to happen."

Kenseth and Edwards have been the center of controversy since Edwards aggressively approached his Roush Fenway Racing teammate following last Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

Edwards said the conflict went much deeper than how the two raced each other that day, saying Roush Fenway lacked the "team spirit" that points leader Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have at Hendrick Motorsports.

Kenseth indicated the situation had more to do with a personality conflict with Edwards, saying team spirit at Roush was better than ever. He did not return phone calls from Edwards and said there was no need for the two to talk, that actions would speak louder than words.

Then they were thrust together by qualifying.

"It always happens that way," Kenseth said. "It's better to talk and be nice to each other than the other way around."

Kenseth said there was no apology and the conversation had nothing to do with their relationship.

"We didn't honestly talk about anything like that," he said. "We just talked about airplanes the whole time. Everything seemed normal. It'll be all right. It'll all work out."

-- David Newton

STREMME JOINS RWI

Change will be the buzzword for Rusty Wallace Inc. in 2008.

RWI will field two full-time entries in the Nationwide Series, David Stremme will hop on board in a part-time role, and the team will move from the Dodge nameplate to Chevrolet.

Stremme will drive the No. 64 in 17 Cup companion events, while 18-year-old Chase Austin will drive the car in 15 races. A third driver yet to be named will drive the three road-course events. Two-time 2007 pole winner Steve Wallace will continue driving a full-time schedule in the No. 66.

"Our entire team is thrilled about our prospects for the 2008 season," Rusty Wallace said Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "David Stremme has proven that he can get the job done in the Busch Series and we're ecstatic to have him on our team."

Sponsoring both cars in '08 for the majority of races will be Atlanta-based Atreus Homes and Communities, known as HomeLife Communities until its Jan. 1 name change.

-- Joe Breeze

PENSKE STAYING WITH DODGE

Penske Racing owner Roger Penske said Sunday that his team will be driving Dodges for years to come.

Penske said he has agreed to a multi-year deal with Dodge. The team contract was set to expire at the end of the 2008 season.

"We've extended our relationship," Penske said. "We've got it good. With [Robert] Nardelli there [as CEO of Chrysler], the commitment is here."

As for Sam Hornish Jr., one of Penske's two IndyCar Series drivers who is considering the switch to the Cup Series but has yet to qualify for a race, the plan is to continue trying to get him in a race.

"We're going to keep digging," Penske said.

He said the team likely will know its plans for Hornish by the Phoenix Cup race in two weeks.

-- Angelique S. Chengelis

Angelique S. Chengelis is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage.

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