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"Soft' walls a possibility

NASCAR is considering using energy-absorbing walls at Talladega Superspeedway, but installation is not likely before the series races there in October.

"There are a couple issues there, one is the high banking," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Sunday before the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

"We need to continue researching it and looking at it, but I don't know that it's a possibility to get them in for October."

NASCAR officials went to Talladega this week to meet with the developers of the SAFER barriers and discuss the viability of using them at the 2.66-mile track.

The barriers will be used next month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the only track on the Winston Cup circuit that has them installed.

NASCAR is open to using them at more facilities, and the interest in Talladega indicates it could be the next one to get the barriers.

GANASSI AND RUDD?: Car owner Chip Ganassi refused to eliminate himself as a potential future employer for Ricky Rudd.

Rudd could be leaving Robert Yates Racing at the end of the season and Ganassi is rumored to have interest in him.

Ganassi already fields Dodges for Winston Cup points leader Sterling Marlin and Jimmy Spencer and has said he'd be interested in adding a third team in the future. If it's next season, Rudd could be his driver.

"I guess that possibility does exist since I'm hearing he doesn't want to stay where he is," Ganassi said. "But talk is cheap."

Landing Rudd wouldn't be, though. It's believed Rudd wants a contract worth at least $2-million a year and Ganassi admitted if he had to pay that money to get the driver, he'd probably have to give Marlin a raise.

PIT STOPS: Marlin finished 14th and retained his lead in the points race. He has a 55-point lead on Mark Martin, who finished 16th. Jimmie Johnson is third in the standings, 92 points back and Rusty Wallace is fourth. Jeff Gordon finished 29th, stretching his winless streak to 27 races. He dropped from third to fifth in the points.

_ TIMES WIRES

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