'Future' design on hold

Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
NASCAR's proposed "car of the future" appears to be dead in the water for the moment. Detroit car makers are putting on hold their own operations for the time being, saying that NASCAR executives aren't offering any clear directions on body configurations or timetables.
NASCAR has planned an exhibition of its own in-house built version of the car, which was originally set to debut this fall at Talladega. But it appears no other stock-car teams will be participating.
Another test of the car of the future in its quite different downforce configuration is expected in the next few days at Homestead, although it's still unclear how many, if any, NASCAR teams will participate.
The first round of Daytona 500 testing ended Wednesday, after a surprisingly low-key three days of runs. Wednesday's round, with 31 cars and 19 drivers, was highlighted by brief six-car packs of drafting, though only for a few laps. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson topped the speed charts at 189.298 mph and 189.195 mph; the two were also among the fastest during the week's solo runs.
Bill Elliott will be driving in his first Daytona 500 in a few years, and this time he'll have Rick Hendrick horsepower, which this week has appeared to be the strongest in the garage.
But Elliott's first race in a General Motors car since 1979 is still just a Daytona deal - the Buch Shootout and the 500, for team manager Jay Frye, as teammate with Joe Nemechek and Sterling Marlin.
But he said he plans to run more for Dodge's Ray Evernham later in the season.
"When I stopped driving full time in 2003, my ties with Dodge ended, and now that's all Ray's deal," Elliott said. "Once Ray said this was OK to do, I decided to do it, and we'll see where the wind blows me."
NASCAR's truck series took a blow when owner Jim Smith decided to close down the operation that took Ted Musgrave to the tour title last November.
Smith was one of the founding team owners in the truck series and has had trucks in every race, winning 37 of the 267.

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