NASCAR » 6 August 2006
Press Snoop: Kahne leads Indy practice three.
Kasey Kahne was the fastest Nextel Cup driver on Saturday afternoon for the first of two practices after Bud Pole Qualifying, with a time of 51.161/175.915 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Second was top Rookie, Clint Bowyer, with Busch Series points leader, Kevin Harvick third and Kurt Busch fourth. Sunday's Cup pole sitter, Jeff Burton was fifth
Only those drivers actually running Sunday's race were on track. The seven drivers who failed to make the field had packed and left.
Further dipping into the talent pool for next season will come from the newly announced Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports based in Mooresville, North Carolina. The four new owners of the NASCAR organisation are well known in a wide variety of motorsports venues: Bill and Bob Riley of Riley Technologies, formerly Riley & Scott; Eddie D'Hondt, general/team manager for top NASCAR teams including Robert Yates Racing, Evernham Motorsports, and Bill Elliott Racing; and Jim Matthews, sports car driver, who has raced with Riley Technologies in Grand American Rolex Series.
D'Hondt recently left RYR but won't talk about that situation. He wants to look ahead.
Bill Riley will be the Technical/Performance Director of RDM; D'Hondt will be the General Manager; and Bob Riley will be the Engineering Director. Matthews, a minority RDM owner, will provide financing and road racing expertise to RDM drivers.
The new firm will be utilising the chassis engineering and construction skills of its present 40-person staff currently based in 40,000 square foot Riley Technologies shop in Indianapolis, and expanding the engineering staff and space in its move on 10 September 2006 to the new 58,000 square foot Mooresville headquarters in Talbert Point Business Park. Riley Technologies planned to move to Mooresville in early spring, before the June partnership with D'Hondt was considered. Bill Riley said the current ups and downs in the sports car world helped him to consider expanding his opportunities in NASCAR.
The business plan is to start with a Busch Series team along with up to four Cup teams running the 2007 Brickyard 400 and five Cup races in the 'Car of Tomorrow' car. RDM won't give any specifics on drivers or manufacturers with which it will partner, but said it is about three weeks away from making such announcements. RDM is close to finalising some driver and manufacturer contracts, including two "very experienced drivers."
Bill Riley acknowledged that 2007 NASCAR testing at Daytona is only 21 weeks away and the plan is to have two Busch cars at the test. It is speaking with many pertinent teams and it is not without the realm of possibility that an existing team will align with RDM. D'Hondt said RDM has already been called by teams, before the team announcement. The sport is getting more technology oriented. The key is to translate that to a good on-track programme - combining technology with seat of the pants methodology.
Lee White of TRD, who started the Toyota Cup programme and will be working with it next year when Toyota joins the Cup Series, said he has "had lunch" with RDM and if it has the money and wants to buy Toyota engines, it could happen.
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