Reutimann gets first Cup pole
Zephyrhills native David Reutimann tucked a business card bearing a photograph of his father, Buzzie, racing in a coupe into his firesuit and used the lucky charm to win his first career Sprint Cup pole on Friday.
The second-year Cup driver covered the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval in 31.462 seconds at 171.636 mph. Scott Speed was second (31.494 seconds).
"Our team is a second-year organization and we were just worried about getting in races, much less even worrying about poles," said Reutimann, who also has earned poles in the truck and Nationwide series. "Our team has come an extremely long way."
Also, Carl Edwards (fourth) outqualified Jimme Johnson (30th), slightly improving his long odds of erasing a 141-point deficit and catching the Cup series leader.
Benson clinches title in trucks
A two-tire stop and a late decision to stay on the track during a caution helped Johnny Benson clinch the NASCAR truck series title by seven points over Ron Hornaday at Homestead. Todd Bodine won the Ford 200, but all eyes were on the championship contenders as Hornaday tried to make up ground after falling behind in the pits. Benson finished seventh, one spot ahead of Hornaday after the green-white-checker finish. "Tonight was tough," Benson said. "Tonight was about (crew chief) Trip Bruce and making the calls he did."
Daytona adapts to testing ban
With its January test gone, Daytona International Speedway will try to conduct an altered "Preseason Thunder" fanfest with driver appearances and other entertainment. Attaining a full field of drivers for a fan session with no on-track activity could be difficult, however. Ticket-holders for preseason tests will be contacted by the DIS ticket office for refunds, track officials said in a release.
Stewart-Haas Racing announced Bobby Hutchens, the former vice president of competition at Dale Earnhardt Inc., as its competition director. Tony Gibson, the crew chief of Tampa resident Aric Almirola on the No. 8 Chevrolet at DEI, will serve in the same role for the No. 39 Chevrolet to be driven by Ryan Newman.
Melanie Troxel had a 4.105-second pass to take the provisional Funny Car pole in the Auto Club NHRA Finals, the season finale and final race in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, in Pomona, Calif. J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led their divisions.
Brant James, Times staff writer; Times wires
No delay in Castroneves trial
A federal judge in Miami rejected requests to delay the tax evasion trial of IndyCar car driver Helio Castroneves. U.S. District Judge Donald Graham said that the March 2 trial date will stand. Lawyers for Castroneves and Penske Racing had sought a delay until November to ensure he could drive in the 2009 series, which starts at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in April.
Mears' swan song just ducky
Casey Mears, headed to Richard Childress Racing in 2009, makes his final start Sunday for Hendrick Motorsports. Being a lame-duck driver can be difficult, but Mears said it has been a great experience: "The last nine races of this season have been the high note of the season for (this) team. We got our intermediate package figured out… . And our short-track racing has really been our best of any track this year."