Neither Dale Earnhardt Jr. nor Tony Stewart would confirm – or deny – a report that Danica Patrick would be racing for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series full time in 2012 and be a part of Stewart-Haas' Cup program in 2013.
In fact, Earnhardt said he hasn't even talked to Patrick since July 1 – the last time she was at a NASCAR track. Instead, he's left the running of his business affairs up to his sister, Kelley Earnhardt.
"It's all Kelley," Earnhardt Jr. explained. "People always used to say that I wasn't focused, I have too many things going on. You'd be surprised the little amount of things I have to worry about. It's basically this race car here and not being late to anything. That's about all I have to worry about."
Said Stewart: "It's like I've always said: When we have something to tell everybody, we'll tell them. But there's nothing to tell yet. So I know there's a lot of speculation but there's nothing to really talk about yet."
It's expected there will be something to talk about on Wednesday, when Patrick reportedly will announce her plans in a press conference at the headquarters of her Phoenix-based sponsor, GoDaddy.com.
Patrick is in Montreal for Saturday's Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. According to the Associated Press, when asked about her future, Patrick responded: "Sorry to bore you but there's nothing new to report."
What else they're talking about at Michigan International Speedway …
As part of Joe Gibbs Racing's newly formed partnership with Toyota Research & Development, Denny Hamlin will use a TRD engine this weekend at Michigan. Kyle Busch won't.
"Why those guys decided to change, I don't know," Busch said. "For us and the 18 team, we're pretty confident in [Joe Gibbs Racing engine builder] Mark Cronquist and what he's been able to do with his guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. We're staying committed to our guys, our engine department for this year."
Busch explained the main reason for the merger is the introduction of fuel injection in 2012. Busch said JGR hasn't done any research-and-development work on fuel injection; TRD has, so it just makes sense for JGR to lean on TRD.
Hamlin and his team, it turns out, asked TRD if they could use their engines this season – no doubt because the 11 team has born the brunt of the blown-engine issues JGR has had this year.
"This is a big favor to ask a manufacturer to provide engines to us for the rest of the year," Hamlin said. "We were going to ask and pull a lot of favors to do it, and we just asked them if they'd be willing to do it – and they did.
"If we were going to make the Chase, we cannot afford DNFs because of engine failures. And on top of that, we couldn't afford to keep starting in the back because of engine failures," Hamlin continued. "We've started in the back, I think, four times because of blown engines. And that's too hard to overcome – especially as hard as it is today to win a race."
• What is Jeff Gordon's plan once he retires?
For starters, he's not talking retirement, but when he does hang up the firesuit he plans on working with children through his foundation. As an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, the recently-turned-40-year-old said he expects racing to always be a part of his life, but he can't say for sure exactly how. What he does know, however, is that working with children through his foundation will be.
"I know that for a fact," he said. "Right now, it’s hard for me to really do the things that I want to do with the children’s charities because I am so limited on time. When I have more time, I would love to do more – and I think that I can make a bigger impact because, right now, I feel like we’re just scratching the surface with a lot of the things as it relates to children."
• What's up with Clint Bowyer's contract status?
Bowyer, the de facto biggest free agent on the market now that Carl Edwards has re-signed with Roush Fenway, says he's not focused on his contract situation. Bowyer looked to be a lock to re-up with Richard Childress Racing, but there’s still no deal done – leading to speculation that Bowyer is still shopping his services around.
"That's unfortunately a part of this business every three years," Bowyer said. "Yeah, [my contract is] up, but right now I'm focused on these next four races. I care about the future but I've got to set that aside and focus on getting myself in the Chase. We've got a legitimate shot at this and we need to make sure we do everything we can to see it out."
• Jimmie Johnson says NASCAR should consider a Cup date in Canada, and he wants to see a road race in the Chase.
"I think that it would make things very exciting in the Chase," Johnson said. "When you look at things, wild car races and the lack of control you have at Talladega, I see road-course racing as an area where – I've seen some dispute about it's not what we do all the time, it's maybe not fair, it's out of the driver's hands. I feel more in control at a road-course race than I ever would or will at a restrictor-plate race. So that's kind of my rebuttal to that discussion. For my own personal preference, I'd like to see one."
- Joe Gibbs Racing
- Denny Hamlin