Garage chatter: What everybody’s talking about before Martinsville Speedway

Oct. 22 news and notes

The need for speed – 5:30 p.m. ET

Marcos Ambrose found the perfect way to distract himself from the drama engulfing his soon-to-be-employer Richard Petty Motorsports.

After qualifying second for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway with a lap of 97.003 mph, Ambrose said his effort on the track was “a lot better than the week.”

For now, Ambrose says what he can control is his steering wheel and his gas pedal. So he’ll concentrate on performance.

Ambrose, 34, admits he understood the risks involved when he signed up to drive for RPM and “didn’t walk into the situation naively.”

“I believed in the company, that’s why I signed,” said Ambrose of RPM. “I believed in Stanley (his team’s sponsor), they chose me as their driver and I’m fully committed to them. I hope they can work it all out. I look forward to driving for them in 2011.

“As a driver, the situation is out of your own hands. It’s stuff that I can’t have any influence over. The best for me to do is to go play golf or go gold-panning and let it sort itself out.”

—Lee Spencer



Oct. 20 news and notes

News to come – Noon ET

Check out Lee Spencer’s Under the Hood video in which the Senior NASCAR Writer discusses coming news of the week. What topics will be covered?

  • Could changes be coming at Penske Racing? What will the organization’s NASCAR program look like in 2011?

  • Are changes to Brad Keselowski’s team part of that mix?

  • What does NASCAR Chairman Brian France say about changes to the Chase?

  • What associate sponsorship could Kevin Harvick land – and what does his Budweiser car look like for 2011?

  • Finally, who has a sponsor announcement pending in the coming days?

Click here to find out.

Oct. 19 news and notes

Twin bill set for Martinsville — 3:30 p.m. ET

Derrike Cope’s nieces, Amber and Angela Cope, are attempting to make their NASCAR debut this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The 27-year-old twins will attempt to qualify for Saturday’s Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race at the short track. They are two of four female racers attempting to make the field. If all qualify, it will mark a highlight in series history.

Jennifer Jo Cobb, with 24 starts, and Johanna Long are also entered in the race.

Angela Cope has made a trio of starts in the ARCA Series, with the last coming in 2008. She has a top finish of 19th in those ranks. Amber Cope has also started in three ARCA races, in 2006 and 2008, with a top finish of 29th.

Angela Cope will pilot the No. 01 Dodge owned by Daisy Ramirez while Amber Cope will compete in Rick Ware’s No. 6 Dodge.

“This is what we have strived for since we started racing go-karts,” Angela Cope said. “We successfully ran go-karts for years across the Northwest, then moved to North Carolina over five years ago with a dream to race stock cars or trucks. We will now get the opportunity to earn the respect of our competitors.”

The Copes could become the first sisters to compete in a national series race. A total of 38 teams will vie for the 36 available positions.

Derrike Cope is best known for winning the 1990 Daytona 500.

—Rea White



Oct. 18 news and notes

Kahne lets team, fans down — 4:30 p.m. ET

Kasey Kahne gave new meaning to lame duck on Saturday.

After the brakes failed on his No. 9 Ford during the Bank of America 500 on Lap 124, Kahne brought the car to the garage. Kahne told his teammates he was too ill to continue on. Team members scrambled and found J.J. Yeley, whose car was sidelined with ignition issues, to finish out what the remainder of the race.

Yeley finished 38th and gained the team six points in the owners standings. Kahne, however, dropped to 21st in the point standings.

How quick was Kahne’s recovery Sunday? He was well enough to run in his inaugural “5Kahne,” a 5k race to benefit the Kasey Kahne foundation and finished in just over 22 minutes. He followed the race with beers at a Lake Norman (N.C.) sandwich shop.

Certainly, Kahne hasn’t been happy with ownership of the No. 9 team since Ray Evernham left the company. And with five races remaining in the season before he moves to Red Bull Racing, it’s understandable why he would decide to mail it in. However, Kahne is paid a pretty price from Budweiser to drive the car whether he had six or 60 races left on his contract. Not only did he let his sponsor and team down on Saturday night, he let down his fans.

—Garage chatter