LONG POND - With all eyes on the economy this week, it isn't too much of a surprise to see NASCAR Sprint Cup car owners looking to find sponsors for their race cars for the 2012 season.
Team owner Jack Roush was one who told the media at Pocono International Raceway Friday that he is confident that he will be able to find the money to have four fully sponsored cars next year.
He talked about just opening negotiations with the existing sponsors for the No. 99 car of Carl Edwards in the past two days. He also has locked up 3M to be the primary sponsor for Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford Fusion. David Ragan's No. 6 UPS sponsorship and Edwards' Aflac sponsorship are both up for renegotiation.
And Crown Royal has already announced it won't return as sponsor of Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Ford.
Roush did say that three of the cars will have multiple sponsorships.
"This thing (NASCAR Sprint Cup racing) is extraordinarily expensive, it's extraordinarily complex and in today's economic environment, I think it's beyond the means and the interest of most sponsors that would be involved to take the whole car," said Roush. "So we're sorting out through the sponsors to find out who the anchor will be for the 99 and then we'll fill in around that with the other sponsors that have got an interest."
The biggest free agent left on the Sprint Cup circuit is Clint Bowyer, one of the drivers currently on the outside looking in at the chase, but he hinted Friday that he is close to a deal that will keep him with Richard Childress Racing. Sponsorship is rumored to be coming from 5-Hour Energy Drink.
"Right now, I'm not worried about that at all," he said. "I'm worried about getting this thing back in the Chase and taking care of business on the race track.
"There is no question we were off speed-wise on these big tracks. We've worked hard to find it, and hit on some things last week before Indy. We unloaded off the truck a lot faster and ... were up running in the top five and things didn't work out at the end. That is a lot better side to be on."
Qualifying for Sunday's Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono kicks off at 10:30 a.m. this morning on what looks to be a busy day at Pocono with both an ARCA race and Nationwide Camp World Truck race on tap.
After the hour and a half Sprint Cup practice on Friday, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Racing Toyota, was fastest with a time of 167.520 miles per hour. Mark Martin, in his No. 5 Chevrolet and the driver who Kahne will replace at Hendrick Motorsports next year, was second fastest at 166.834 mph.
Kevin Harvick was third, 166.756 mph in the No. 29 Chevrolet. Bowyer was fourth, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya.
The second five were led by Jeff Burton in another RCR Chevrolet. Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Regan Smith and Edwards followed.
Keselowski, who is driving with a broken ankle and related injuries after crashing during testing at Road Atlanta earlier this week, spun in turn one, but kept his No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge off the wall.
Looking at the truck race, Kevin Harvick led Friday's practice round for the Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway as he circled the tri-oval at 161.493 miles per hour.
Second was Todd Bodine in the No. 5 Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota, which went 160.964 mph. Kyle Busch's No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota was third at 160.878 mph.
Race coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on SPEED.
There wasn't much rubber left on his tires after Max Gresham drove the fastest ARCA Racing Series qualifying lap at Pocono Raceway in eight years, and will start first in tomorrow's Pennsylvania ARCA 125 that gets the checkered flag at 3 p.m.
Gresham's lap of 53.535 seconds (168.114 mph) in the No. 25 World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park Toyota was his second pole in 10 career starts.
Slatington's Korey Ra-benold will start 23rd in his No. 03 Chevrolet after a qualifying time of 157.734 mph.