Originally created 06/27/04

NASCAR notebook



SONOMA, Calif. -- With four of the last seven Nextel Cup races having finished under a yellow caution flag, NASCAR is considering a rules change that would give the drivers an opportunity to finish under green.

The most likely scenario in the case of a caution in the last few laps of the race would be to restart the cars with both the white one-lap-to-go flag and green displayed simultaneously.

"We're currently evaluating it," NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said Saturday. "It's possible you could see it sometime later this year. But rumors it could happen as early as next week in Daytona aren't true."

Rusty Wallace hates the idea.

"They're talking about making it mandatory that it's green-white-checkered finishes so the fans don't get upset," the former series champion and longtime star said. "I don't agree with that and I'll be the first one politicking that you shouldn't do that.

"All these race fans drinking beer and screaming and hollering have not been in a helicopter upside down with 30 tubes hanging out of you after going end-over-end 30 times like I've been before because of these green-white starts. I think it's ridiculous and it's unsafe."

Wallace said he knows his stand on this won't be popular with many of the fans.

"I'll take some heat, probably, but it's just the wrong thing to do," he said. "I'm not willing to do it to make the fans happy. They've been here all week long and they've seen 495 miles of racing and they'll just have to give up that last five miles of racing."

IT'S A TAKE: You don't need to tune into the SPEED Channel to see Casey Mears anymore.

Mears, who drives the No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, has a cameo on the NBC soap opera "Days of Our Lives." In the episode, which airs Wednesday, Mears plays - what else? - a NASCAR driver.

"I had a great time," he said. "The first time I did my lines, I kinda messed up my last line. I did it again and everybody started clapping. They're going 'great job.' I said, 'Wait a minute. If I had known this was the real deal, I would have put a little more into it.' I guess it worked out."

He said his appearance lasted about as long as an 80-second lap at Infineon Raceway.

"It was very soap opera. Some girl's boyfriend was tied to a bed somewhere. He had been kidnapped. A friend of hers bought the hood of my car at a race and it had a message for her boyfriend to come back home.

"It was pretty cheesy, but it was fun."

THE OTHER GORDON: Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon sees defending Infineon champion Robby Gordon as one of the people he has to beat in Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350, but not somebody he'll be touring with in the California wine country any time soon.

"I have no problem with Robby," Jeff Gordon said. "I think he's got a lot of talent. The facts are the facts. I don't think he always uses his head. ... He's not anybody I'd go hang out with."

Jeff Gordon will start from the pole on Sunday, while Robby Gordon qualified 24th.

SPARK PLUGS: Klaus Graf is the first German driver to qualify for a NASCAR Cup race (38th) since Rolf Stommelen in 1971 at Talledega. ... Team owner Ray Evernham and driver Bill Elliott coached rookie Kasey Kahne around Infineon's road course in Elliott's old No. 9 Dodge. ... Terry Labonte, who qualified 25th, leads his Hendrick Motorsports teammates - including Jeff Gordon - in laps completed so far this season with 4,607 of the possible 4,850; Gordon is last at 4,284; Brian Vickers has 4,565 and series points leader Jimmie Johnson 4,530.