the latest news from around the world, courtesy of press snoop Lynne Huntting

It was bright and beautiful at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA for the first day of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 weekend. The weather was, warm, sunny with a breeze - a breeze with attitude. The schedule included NASCAR Nextel Cup and Southwest Series; the Motorock Trans-Am Series, under the umbrella of Champ Car; and Legend cars.

In the morning session, one might have thought the Nextel Cup T&S monitor was broken because it sat there with JEFF GORDON/No.24 Dupont Chevrolet on top almost the entire two-hour session, with a best time of 95.060 mph.

There are 17 each for Chevrolet and Dodge, and ten Fords entered. There are several one-off road racers on track for this, the first of the two road races on the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. Making his NASCAR debut is KLAUS GRAF of Germany in No.59 SEM/Colour Horizons Dodge, run by the BAM team, the same team for which KEN SCHRADER/No.49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge races. Graf has a long and varied road racing resume. He was nineteenth overall, after running as high as sixteenth. MORGAN SHEPHERD/No.89 Racing With Jesus Dodge was the only driver of the 44 entrants who wasn't on track - when last seen, the crew was still applying decals on the car.

JIM INGLEBRIGHT of nearby Fairfield CA is another of the one-off drivers, racing for RICHARD CHILDRESS in No.30 AOL Chevrolet. Earlier in the week the team was experiencing carburetion problems with the car, but those were resolved and Inglebright was on track for the morning session and was thirty-seventh fastest.

JIMMY SPENCER is sitting out this Cup race, due to lack of sponsorship, not choice.

BORIS SAID of Carlsbad CA is running all three races this weekend. Probably the only reason he's not in a Legends car is that he couldn't fit is 6'4 "+ frame into the small car. He's on pole for the Southwest Series race with a time of 77.853/92.020 mph, not a record. STEVE PETTY still holds the record with a time of 1:11.782/97.746 mph, set on 24 June 2000. He is one of the three drivers not making the cut, as he has no provisionals. He was forty-second of 43 drivers who turned times.

There was no podium conference after the SWS Qualifying session. Said had to get to the Cup garage to get in line for qualifying as he was P29 in the qualifying order, out of 44 cars.

Second through fifth are DAVID GILLILAND/No.88 RaceCarFans.com Pontiac (son of NASCAR veteran BUTCH GILLILAND, one of the original Craftsman Truck drivers), BURNEY LAMAR/No.1 Groeniger/Tri-C Chevrolet, BRYAN GERMONE/No.89 Generations of Sonoma/Golden State Lumber Chevrolet, and KEVIN HARVICK/No.92 Snap-On Tools Chevrolet, who was right behind Said in line for Cup qualifying.

Points leader, CRAIG RAUDMAN/No.2 HPS Mechanical Chevrolet will start nineteenth.

JIM INGLEBRIGHT/No.0 Big O Tires Chevrolet will start ninth in the Southwest race. He is P41 for Cup qualifying.

BEN WALKER/No.16 Camacho's Cantina Chevrolet blew his engine big time in the Esses, which led to a long delay during qualifying for cleanup. He made the field on a Provisional, based on Owner's Points.

Three drivers won't make the field for Saturday's 64-lap race: Petty, CURTIS LANSING/No.15 Little Germany Chevrolet and VINCE LITTLE/No.42 Bad Attitude Apparel Chevrolet.

Those making the field with provisionals of one kind or another (Owner/Driver/Past Champion/Southeast or Time): NICK JOANIDES/No.75 Colorfast Jackson Race Cars Chevrolet (Q39); RICHARD JOHNSON/No.47 Radcap Chevrolet (Q45); DOUG McCOUN/No.34 Rodgers Trucking Chevrolet (Q37); RUDY REVAK/No.86 Symmetry Group Chevrolet (Q38)-local road racers who has run this one race every year for the past ten years; and TODD SOUZA/No.6 Money By Design Chevrolet (43).

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