Competitors in the garage for the NASCAR Busch Series portion of NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway had dual reasons to watch the dreary, leaking skies overhead Sunday. First and foremost, they needed to get the session in to fine tune their machines for the Feb. 14 season-opening Hershey?s Kisses 300.

It didn?t happen, and most teams will come back Monday, Feb. 19 for the scheduled rain day. Teams will be on the track from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

But if it wasn?t going to be possible to get on the track, maybe there would be time for the afternoon?s National Football League conference finals. Many teams and officials, forced to wait out the rain and stay for the rain day on Monday, Jan. 19, made plans to watch the games later that afternoon and that evening.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 81 Bass Pro Shops/Yum Brands, Inc./Kraft Nabisco Chevrolet), a native of Mayetta, N.J., was one of the few in the garage not pulling for the Carolina Panthers. He was pulling for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team going up against the Panthers for the National Football Conference title and the right to play in the Super Bowl XXXVIII, scheduled for Feb. 1.

?I hear crap all the time,? said Truex when asked about rooting for the Eagles amongst a team based so close to the Carolina stadium. ?When the Eagles beat the Panthers earlier in the season, Josh [Snider, who does PR for Truex] was at the game and was talking to me on his Nextel. I was busting on him. Hopefully, [the Eagles] can get in the Super Bowl again.?

Tommy Chandler, who tunes the engines on Robert Pressley?s No. 47 Clorox Ford, is from Owensboro, Ky., and was cheering for the Indianapolis Colts, who were set to play the New England Patriots for the American Football Conference trophy. Steve Plattenberger, the crew chief on Pressley?s car, however, is both a Panthers fan and a fan of the team?s coach, John Fox.

?He?s got a game plan, and he sticks to it,? Plattenberger said. ?It?s worked pretty good for him.?

Ricky Viers, the crew chief for Kevin Harvick (No. 21 Hershey?s Kisses Chevrolet), wore a Carolina Panthers jacket and T-shirt.


Enough is enough... Joe Nemechek (No. 87 CellularOne Chevrolet), who turned the quickest lap on the first day of the NASCAR Busch Series portion of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, pulled his team out of the session when rain forced the delay. The teams of Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Dodge) and Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron?s Sales and Lease Chevrolet) did likewise.

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