Roger Penske has hinted that current Craftsman Truck Series star Brendan Gaughan could form part of an expanding NASCAR Nextel Cup program in 2004, although it is not yet clear whether this will be as a result of a conglomeration with Jasper Motorsports or an additional team to those of Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman.

Gaughan led the Truck Series points standings right up until the final round at Homestead last weekend when he became the innocent victim of an unavoidable crash with a spinning backmarker but despite losing out to Travis Kvapil for the title, he has emerged as a definite fan favourite with the NCTS crowds.

However a potential deal with Gaughan hinges on several factors, namely a sponsor.

"There has been interest by our team to possibly look at a third car," stated Penske on last Thursday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain programme on Speed Channel. "Kodak has talked to four or five teams - they came to our shop and we made a proposal. So, at this particular time, we have interest, we have engine capability with our Penske Jasper program ... to bring another young driver in might be a real opportunity for us for next year."

Even if Kodak, who bought out their remaining contract with the free-falling Morgan McClure Motorsports team at the end of the season, plum for a deal with Penske Racing, it may not be for a full season unless tied in with the #77 Jasper Motorsports team.

Jasper, which currently fields a Ford for Dave Blaney, shares an engine program with Penske and could become a third Penske team with Kodak, thus raising further questions over the future of Blaney.

"Brendan is one of the young Dodge drivers and obviously with our relationship with Dodge with Rusty and Ryan, he could be a possibility," Penske told Despain. "You have to decide, do you go with a young driver or do you go with a proven star that has been in NASCAR (WC)."

Even though pre-season testing at Daytona is less than two months away (!!!), there is still plenty of time for things to develop, or otherwise, and Penske re-iterated that there is nothing agreed upon yet.

"At this point, we don't have an official announcement to make. Rumours seem to be the thing of the day when you're in auto racing, but there is a lot of water that has to go across the dam before we can make any formal announcement, I can assure you that."

 

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