Brad Keselowski has pulled out of driving the #22 Penske Dodge at Watkins Glen International this weekend, after admitting that his recovery from injuries sustained in a high speed crash in testing at Road Atlanta last week wasn't proceeding as quickly as hoped.

"After phys therapy session last night, it became obvious that progress was slower then hoped," said Keselowski on Twitter. "Although I'm getting better, driving severely aggravates my ankle & back. So rather then take 2 steps forward with rehab and 2 back with NNS/Cup, just Cup."

Keselowski admitted that although his fractured ankle got all the media attention, it was actually his back that was giving him the most problem and that the pain was "tremendous."

Keselowski's place behind the wheel on Saturday will be taken by his Cup team mate Kurt Busch giving him extra track time ahead of Sunday's main event.

"I have always tried to be a great team player throughout my career, and I am happy to help out our Penske Racing Team over on the Nationwide side this weekend at the Glen," said Busch in the team announcement. "With the incredible effort Brad Keselowski put forth last weekend in winning Sunday's race at Pocono, we think it's a smart move to let him focus on just the Sprint Cup action this weekend."

Although not thought a road course specialist, Busch actually has a very successful record in Nationwide races at the Glen, finishing third place in 2005 and winning in 2006. He also won the most recent Cup race on a road course at Infineon in June.

Busch stepping in will mean that the Nationwide race will be his first rematch with Jimmie Johnson after the two exchanged angry words after the rain-hit Cup race at Pocono, as Johnson is making his first series appearance in three years in a bid to get more road course time ahead of Sunday's Cup race.

Drug busts rock Earnhardt-Ganassi

Two Earnhardt-Ganassi crew members were arrested and charged with drugs offences mid-week.

Trevor Lysne, who is the front-tyre changer for Juan Montoya's #42 car at Cup races, and team mechanic Jerome Frey were arrested as part of a police operation that recovered over ten pounds (almost 5kg) of marijuana alleged to have shipped from California. The drugs operation did not involve any activities undertaken during their work with the team.

Both men appeared in North Carolina Superior Court in Huntersville on Wednesday to face a variety of drugs-related charges including trafficking, possession with intent to sell and maintaining a dwelling to distribute marijuana.

Earnhardt-Ganassi fired both men with immediate effect. "We have a zero tolerance policy in this organization and effective immediately, both individuals' employment has been terminated," said team co-owner Chip Ganassi, who said he was "extremely disappointed with the news."

As a formality, NASCAR also followed up the firings by handing down indefinite series bans to both men for violation of the circuit's substance abuse policy as well as actions detrimental to stock-car racing.

Joe Gibbs Racing hands over engine build to Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing has announced that it is to merge its engine program with that of Toyota Racing Development next season, meaning that it will be running the same power units as those used by Michael Waltrip Racing.

The move follows a worrying trend of engine failures for JGR in 2011, with 11 engine failures recorded so far this season resulting in Denny Hamlin starting from the back in four races.

The consolidation is also required by Toyota, as they face the likely loss of one of their three NASCAR Cup teams with the fate of Red Bull Racing still in the balance. Toyota could not make a viable plan out of supplying just one team (MWR) from its southern California facility going forward in 2012.

JGR will receive the Toyota-built parts and add its own package to the motors, and has also struck a deal with MWR to do the same for that team - safeguarding jobs in the JGR engine program.

"It's just a great deal for both organizations, as well as the Michael Waltrip Racing organization," said the president of Toyota Racing Development, Lee White. "It brings all three of the entities closer together cooperatively in terms of engines, drivability, supporting the engines at the racetrack and also extending into the chassis."

The current Toyota-built engine does not fit in the 2011 JGR chassis, but the team have not ruled out making changes to their cars before the end of the season to allow for the team to get a jump on the transition, which will also see the introduction of electronic fuel injection to the series, replacing carburetors.

Pocono shortens races for 2012

Organisers at Pocono Raceway have announced that both NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the circuit will be shortened from 500 to 400 miles in 2012, as debate continues about the length of races in the series.

"The 400 mile distance will make NASCAR racing at Pocono even more exciting," said the president and CEO of Pocono, Brandon Igdalsky.

NASCAR said it supported the move. "It will provide the teams with a new type of strategy and should make for even more exciting competition," said NASCAR senior vice president for racing operations Steve O'Donnell.

Pocono has historically had some of the longest races in NASCAR because of the relatively slow lap times on the tricky, unique 2.5-mile "tri-oval". Sunday's race lasted five and a half hours, including one hour and forty minutes for a red flag rain delay mid-race.


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