TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - Deadly storms that roared across the South led to the postponement of an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway, cut short practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup event and led Juan Pablo Montoya to take cover in the media center.
The track was pounded by heavy rains and wind, and the area was twice under a tornado warning Friday. But there were no reports of serious damage.
NASCAR stars such as Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth planned to ride out the storms in their luxury motor homes, parked next to the infield garage area.
``In all my times watching the Weather Channel, I've never heard of 43 big expensive buses getting destroyed,'' Newman said. ``I'm going to stick with the odds. I'm staying in my mobile home.''
Montoya was taking no chances. He brought his wife and three young children to the media center, a permanent structure, rather than remain in his home on wheels while the worst of the storm passed through the track.
Talladega officials rescheduled the ARCA race for 8 a.m. CDT time Saturday, hoping to get it in before qualifying for Sunday's Aaron's 499.
NATIONWIDE POLE: Elliott Sadler landed the pole for Saturday's Nationwide race, another big step in his comeback from a disappointing start to the season.
Sadler finished 38th in the season opener at Daytona, and problems at Phoenix and Las Vegas left him with 12th-place finishes.
But he was in the top five at the last three races, and a speed of 179.558 mph gave the former Sprint Cup driver his first pole of the year.
``We are definitely going in the right direction,'' Sadler said. ``We put ourselves in a huge hole.''
Sadler was a regular on the Cup circuit for a dozen years, winning three times and capturing eight poles. But he lost his ride after last season and dropped down to the Nationwide Series, signing a two-year deal with Kevin Harvick's lower-division team.
His teammate, Sprint Cup regular Clint Bowyer, joined Sadler on the front row with a speed of 179.373. Two more Cup regulars, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (179.115) and Jamie McMurray (178.560), will be on the second row, while Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was fifth at 178.427.
WAR EAGLE, FLY DOWN THE TRACK: One car could spark some divided loyalties in Sunday's Sprint Cup race, and it won't have anything to do with who's behind the wheel.
Michael Waltrip will be driving a No. 15 Toyota Camry decked out in Auburn's blue and orange colors, commemorating the school's national football championship.
That will certainly draw plenty of cheers in Auburn's home state, And, of course, a sizable share of boos considering the divided football loyalties in these parts. Hard to imagine many fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide rooting for anyone bearing the Tigers' logo.
In keep with the Auburn theme, coach Gene Chizik will serve as grand marshal for the race.
MENARD'S NEW RIDE: Paul Menard is off to the best start of his career, taking advantage of his move to the powerful Richard Childress Racing team.
The 30-year-old Wisconsin native has never finished higher than 23rd in the points in four full-time years on the Sprint Cup circuit. But he was able to land a spot at RCR because he had solid sponsorship provided by his father's chain of home improvement stores.
Menard has capitalized on the chance with a pair of top-five finishes - he came into the year with that many for his entire career - and ranks 11th in the points.
``This is a very cyclical sport,'' he said. ``It beats you down. There were times where I (doubted) if I could be good enough. But I've been racing since I was 8 years old. I've won at everything I've done. I knew I could do it if I got in the right situation. I've had some bad situations and I've had some good situations. But this is by far the best opportunity I've had.''
BAD COOKING: Carl Edwards has learned not to call out his mom over her culinary skills.
After climbing from his car at Texas last week with an upset stomach, Edwards blamed his mother for preparing a dish that made him ill.
He's backtracking now.
Big time.
``It turns out, my motor home driver and his wife ... they told my mom, 'We ate the rest of that food and we're fine. So it wasn't the food,''' Edwards said, looking a bit embarrassed. ``I had to apologize to my mom. But I really thought that's what it was.''
Well, at least there's been some fringe benefits for his mother.
``She thought it was pretty funny,'' Edwards said. ``She won't have to cook for anybody anytime soon. She's been offering to cook for people and they're like, 'Uh, no, that's OK.'''

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