France weighs in on Chase

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The man who invented the Chase for the championshipis expecting Jeff Gordon to at least gain ground on Jimmie Johnson this week.

"I think Jeff's going to run better here, and I think it could be very, very close going into Homestead," NASCAR chairman Brian France said.

Johnson has a 30-point lead over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon going in to Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway. The competition next week in Homestead is the last of the 12 races that make up the Chase.

France agreed that having teammates going for the title isn't the best scenario.

"All things being equal, we'd like to see 12 different drivers from 12 different teams, but that's not how it always works," France said after appearing at a NASCAR business seminar at the track on Friday.

"We can't predict who's going to be good in a given year. That's why they race."

France was pleased with the revised Chase system used this year.

"I think it's worked," he said.

Among the changes was adding bonus points for victories. He used Johnson's victory last week in Texas as an example.

"He knew how close it was and he knew those bonus points may be necessary to win it all," he said. "In the old days, a couple of years ago, somebody might have settled for second. He took a lot of chances. I hope it was because the rewards were such that it counts. That's what I'm hearing."


TOYOTA-BOUND: Hall of Fame Racing is following Joe Gibbs Racing to Toyota.

The team said that J.J. Yeley would drive a Toyota Camry in 2008. The team drove Chevrolets the past two years, but because of its alliance with JGR, it will follow the team to Toyota.

Hall of Fame Racing recently was purchased by a group that includes Jeff Moorad, a former top sports agent and now co-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks logo is on the car this weekend.

Yeley currently drives a Chevrolet.


VETERAN MOVE: Petty Enterprises will have the Paralyzed Veterans of America as a primary sponsor for Kyle Petty's No. 45 Dodge for two races next year at Richmond and Pocono.

The organization will be an associate sponsor for the other 34 NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

"We've been very blessed in our life in this sport," Petty said, "and we've been very blessed to use this sport in so many ways. The PVA is a great organization. These men and women give so much for us."

Kyle's father and Petty Enterprises co-president, Richard Petty, NASCAR's career wins leader, said he has been involved with the veterans' group for several years and has visited wounded veterans in the hospital.

"You see these guys and gals who got hurt trying to protect us, your heart goes out to them," he said.

Dianne Brunswick, a member of the Arizona chapter of the paralyzed veterans' group, said the association with the Pettys shold raise "the awareness for the PVA and all the injured who are coming home and the wounded who desperately need your support and your help."

"Just to know that you care makes a huge difference," she said.