Andy Houston's tenure with PPI Motorsports appears to be over following a brief statement from McDonalds, title sponsors of his No.96 Ford Taurus while the current driver merry-go-round in the No.7 Ultra Motorsports camp continues but possibly for the last time.

This weekend's entry for the New England 300 has been trimmed to 44 following the withdrawal of the second PPI Motorsports Ford Taurus of Andy Houston and the Winston Cup rookie could find himself out of a drive for the rest of the year following a statement from title sponsors McDonalds this week.

Statement by Georgina Roy, McDonald's manager of sports marketing:

"Since McDonald's and PPI Motorsports are currently in discussions relating to the sponsorship program in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the PPI-owned McDonald's No. 96 Ford Taurus will not compete in this weekend's New England 300 at New Hampshire International Raceway and in next week's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway."

Brief but to the point, McDonalds and PPI Motorsports look set to relaunch their season at Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 in August but probably without Houston behind the wheel who has failed to qualify for six races thus far in 2001 and has yet to finish inside the top ten in 12 starts. Following his second 43rd place finish in a row at Chicagoland last weekend Houston is just 42nd in the Winston Cup points standings with 824 points and is sixth in the rookie standings behind Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Casey Atwood, Ron Hornaday and Jason Leffler.

Just as the situation in one Winston Cup team becomes uncertain, another appears to have been resolved with the news that Mike Wallace will drive the No.7 Nations Rent Ultra Motorsports Ford for the rest of the year following five driver changes in as many races. Wallace, who started the season with the underachieving operation, was replaced with Ted Musgrave at Pocono, who gave way for Robby Gordon at Sears Point, who handed the keys back to Wallace at Daytona before getting them back at Chicagoland last weekend. This weekend Wallace is back in the hot seat and should be allowed to resume his points battle, where he currently sits 38th with three top ten finishes in 15 starts.

Robby Gordon meanwhile has found a temporary home with Richard Childress Racing in place of the injured Mike Skinner and he will pilot the No.31 Lowe's Chevrolet alongside Kevin Harvick, the man who cost Gordon a breakthrough NWC victory at Sears Point last month. Gordon recently impressed in a Busch Series outing at Watkins Glen for Childress and rocketed through the field in the early stages at Chicagoland last weekend before a mechanical problem cost him 15 laps and any chance of a good finish.

Gordon's current deal should be for just one race as Skinner is reluctant to miss any more races in his bid to save his RCR drive for next year but a polished performance from the former CART star could put him in the frame next season.