Rain denies Allmendinger's debut: Heavy, persistent rain canceled all on-track activities Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, including Nextel Cup practice, and more importantly, qualifying. The rain forced NASCAR to set the field for Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500 based on owner points, denying open-wheel sensation A.J. Allmendinger a chance to make his Cup debut for Team Red Bull Racing. Bill Elliott was set to run this race for Team Red Bull until TRB signed Allmendinger earlier this week. The team said in a press release that Elliott agreed to step aside and allow Allmendinger to step in. But Friday's weather did not cooperate, leaving Allmendinger on the sideline. The rain also denied TRB its second Nextel Cup start in the last three races. Two races ago at Lowe's Motor Speedway, TRB attempted to qualify Elliott in a Dodge, but Elliott failed to qualify for the race based on speed. Elliott still is racing this weekend, as he signed a one-race deal to drive the No. 37 Chevrolet for R & amp;J Racing. He made the field by using a past champion's provisional and will start 36th.
Chevy unveils Impala: Chevrolet unveiled its version of the Car of Tomorrow Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Impala SS will replace the Monte Carlo as Chevrolet's primary Nextel Cup car. The model will be introduced into competition beginning in 2007 as the Car of Tomorrow enters NASCAR. NASCAR will phase in the Car of Tomorrow with 16 races in '07 and 26 races in '08 before going full-time with the car in '09. The Monte Carlo entered NASCAR in 1971 and ran until 1988, when it was replaced by the Lumina. The Monte Carlo returned in 1995 and has been back since.
Martin still eyes prize: Chase contender Mark Martin hasn't given up on winning the Nextel Cup just yet. After being as high as third in the standings three races into the Chase, finishes of 30th at Charlotte and 24th at Martinsville have Martin seventh in the standings, 96 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. But Martin -- in his final year with Roush Racing -- hasn't given up on getting back into the fray. "If you look at it historically -- last year and the year before -- we were about twice as far back as we are, and we finished fourth in both of those," Martin said. "So you can look at it in a lot of different directions and find the positive in it."
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service