Even though the first race of the NASCAR season is still 37 days away — the prestigious Daytona 500 — racing has begun. Sort of.

Officially titled NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona, teams began testing their cars for the upcoming season. Teams that were in odd-number positions in the car owner standings as of July 12, 2006 tested this week. The even-numbered teams will test next week.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the fastest car in practice on Tuesday but of course that was overshadowed by the so-called drama between him and his step-mother Teresa Earnhardt.

Teresa was originally quoted as saying this to the Wall Street Journal. Junior then said this at a press conference on Monday. To which Ricky Rudd gave his two cents on Tuesday (he was asked for his opinion, so it’s not like he just busted out with it).

I just hope that this all blows over, Junior renews his deal with DEI and we can all get back to racing and trying to win!

In other news…

Greg Biffle got engaged over the holidays to his kick-ass girlfriend Nicole Lunders. She’s the woman who got so pissed with Kurt Busch, after he put Biffle’s car into the wall at Texas last year, that she stormed over to Busch’s pit box and chewed out his fiancée Eva Bryan. That was the coolest thing I had seen at a race in a very long time.

— This year’s NASCAR Day has been set for May 18th.

Fans interested in participating in NASCAR Day can purchase a pin, sign up his or her company and even purchase NASCAR Day apparel by going to www.nascar.com/foundation. NASCAR fans, corporations, schools and organizations across the country are encouraged to donate $5 and all participants receive a collectible 2007 NASCAR Day lapel pin for their donation.

Kasey Kahne signs autographs for fans during NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway. (All Photos Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)