A sign of the times

This weekend in Phoenix the NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying will feature no fewer than five topline names from open-wheeler racing competing to make the field for the Checker Auto Parts 500. There are 49 cars entered for the event with the field being 43 as usual although only 13 drivers have to qualify on speed alone as others make the field because of their team's points situation or their status as a previous champion.

The five mento watch are Sam Hornish Jr (Penske), Patrick Carpentier (Evernham), Jacques Villeneuve (Bill Davis Racing), Juan Pablo Montoya (Ganassi) and AJ Allmendinger (Red Bull).

Joining the fray next year will be Dario Franchitti (Ganassi).

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