NASCAR News and Notes from Lowe's Motor Speedway

David YeazellSenior Analyst IMay 15, 2009

First practice is underway at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Topping the leader board is Casey Mears, running a fast lap of 181.782 mph. Other notables are Michael Waltrip, 11th fastest; Joey Lagano, 10th fastest; and David Reutimann sitting solid in the top five.

Kirk Shelmerdine hit the wall early and was transported to the infield care center. Shelmerdine was evaluated and released, his car was evaluated and released to Welcome, North Carolina.

Whispers around the garage area are still concentrated on Jeremy Mayfield. The No. 41 Toyota is at the track and has been cleared for practice. J.J. Yeley was listed as the driver for this event, but as of this morning, there was not a driver name listed on the car.

Questions about Mayfield were fielded in early morning press conference's with Mark Martin and Kyle Busch. Busch said there have been times where he didn't feel well or had a severe headache.

In those instances, Mayfield had taken over the counter medicines, not really knowing they might have an adverse effect on drug testing.

Some drivers have expressed concern about taking prescription medicine or over the counter drugs.  

While Mayfield has not yet made a public statement, there is still some speculation he may be innocent.

When asked by the media if he had any comments on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his struggles this season, Mark Martin supported his teammate.

"Dale Jr. has the biggest, broadest shoulders in this sport," said Martin.

"I still wouldn't want to be him.

"I told Dale he needed to step back and take a deep breath. Have fun this weekend and let things come together like they should."

Martin said he feels like Jr. is going through a slump that every driver experiences. He said all the things are there for Jr., but his results do not indicate how good he is how good or his team is.

"His dad went through it. I have gone through it. We all go through it," said Martin. "It's only a big deal because its Dale Earnhardt Jr.".

The weather in Charlotte has been questionable most of the day. Skies full of dark clouds have made for a cooler race track. Rain is expected later this afternoon, possibly threatening the Camping World truck race. 

Driver's with special paint scheme's for this Saturday's race are, Jr., Harvick and Kurt Busch.

More news, notes and pictures from LMS later.