* Rusty Wallace is at the perfect track to snap losing streak * Kurt Busch tries for "triple" at Bristol * Chevrolet leads Manufacturers Championship points NEWS & NOTES * Could this be the week for Wallace? ... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller...
* Rusty Wallace is at the perfect track to snap losing streak
* Kurt Busch tries for "triple" at Bristol
* Chevrolet leads Manufacturers Championship points
NEWS & NOTES
* Could this be the week for Wallace? ... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) has gone 103 races since his last victory. (California Speedway, April 2001.) Which means he welcomes a return to Bristol Motor Speedway, where he has nine victories overall and six victories in the track's spring event. That first total is second all-time (behind retired driver Darrell Waltrip's 12); the second total is an all-time record.
"Bristol's always been like a home track to me," said Wallace. "I've always been quick to call it my favorite racetrack. The fact that I won my first race there back in 1986, the fact that we've always had so much success there, the fact that we have such a big following of race fans in the area and having the auto dealerships just down the road from the place -- all add up to making it like a homecoming every time we go to Bristol. It has always been a special place for us and always will be. We're just hoping to taste some more success there again this weekend."
Wallace, confident anyway when racing at Bristol, is even more so this year because of tire compounds that show wear more quickly than in recent years, in effect increasing the "driver element" within the competitive equation.
"The days of going 150 laps on the same set of tires and winning races on wacky strategy are history," Wallace said after two recent test days at Bristol. "From what we saw and learned, I'm convinced that it'll be back to the good kind of racing again at Bristol where the fastest and best-handling race car comes home the winner at the end."
* Busch back at Bristol going for three straight ... Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford) will try to join some elite company this weekend. Busch has won the last two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events at Bristol Motor Speedway. (And three of the last four.) Only three drivers have won three consecutive races at BMS -- Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Lorenzen won the second race at Bristol in 1963, then swept '64's races. Yarborough won four consecutive via sweeps in '76 and '77. Waltrip set the standard for Bristol excellence via seven consecutive victories. He swept from 1981-83, then won the first race in '84.
* Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: Kenseth's lead dwindles ... Reigning series champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) leads the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 for the third consecutive week, even though he finished 31st this past Sunday after being involved in a Lap 161 incident. ... Kenseth now leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), by only 21 points (743-722). Earnhardt finished a solid 10th at Darlington. ... Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) finished third at Darlington and climbed from 11th to ninth in the point standings. It marks his first appearance in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 in 2004. ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 takes on added importance this season. After 26 races of the 36-race season, the top 10 drivers in points -- plus anyone within 400 points of the points leader -- qualify for the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" that will determine the series champion. ... This new format thus makes it especially interesting to chart those just outside the top 10. This week, positions 11th-15th in the points all are within 68 points of the top 10. Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) is 28 points out, in 11th; Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) is 53 points out, in 12th; Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is 53 back, in 13th; and 14th-place Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) and 15th-place Ward Burton (No. 0 NetZero Hi-Speed Chevrolet) are 68 back.
* Qualifying key at Bristol ... History shows it's tough to fight through the pack, during a Bristol event. Only six times in 86 races at Bristol has a driver started outside the top 15 and gone on to win. All six have occurred in the last 10 years, with three of those occurrences in the last six years.
* Full-court Bristol press: Riggs' car to have special Globetrotters paint scheme ... Driver Scott Riggs and the Valvoline team will pay tribute to the legendary Harlem Globetrotters basketball team with a specially prepared red, white and blue paint scheme on the No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend at Bristol. The spirited paint scheme will have a resemblance to the Globetrotters uniform and will also feature a red, white and blue Globetrotters basketball on the hood. The Globetrotters will be the first professional basketball team to ever adorn a race car in NASCAR's 56-year history. The Globetrotters join the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals as the only professional sports franchises to decorate cars in a NASCAR event. ... Said Riggs: "I hope some of that Globetrotters razzle-dazzle will rub off on the Valvoline car."
* NASCAR supporting National Car Care Month ... NASCAR is joining the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association in support of April's National Car Care Month, a nationwide effort to focus motorists' attention on the importance of vehicle care and maintenance. "Be Car Care Aware" is the automotive industry's "Got Milk" campaign and NASCAR has taken a leading role in highlighting this initiative in all of its Aftermarket marketing programs including the NASCAR Performance TV show which airs Wednesday nights on SPEED Channel. Bristol Motor Speedway will highlight National Car Care Month during pre-race activities. "NASCAR was instrumental in helping to create the 'Be Car Care Aware' consumer education campaign, working in collaboration with major aftermarket manufacturers, distributors and service providers," said Alfred L. Gaspar, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. "Today, NASCAR actively and generously supports the campaign through public relations, marketing and advertising in the print and broadcast media and special events."
* Chevy leads manufacturers title hunt ... After five races, Chevrolet leads the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Manufacturers' Championship points, on the strength of three race victories. Chevrolet has 35 points; Ford and Dodge are tied for second with 30 points apiece. ... Chevrolet has won the championship 27 times, while Ford has won 15 times. Per-race points are awarded in the following manner: First place -- nine points; second place -- six points; third place -- four points.
* NASCAR TV Offers full slate ... This week on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel:
* Friday, March 26 -- Live NASCAR Busch Series (1:30 p.m. ET) and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (3 p.m. ET) qualifying from Bristol Motor Speedway.
* Friday, March 26 -- NASCAR Live (4:30 p.m. ET) hosted by Steve Byrnes.
* Friday, March 26 -- Trackside live from SPEED Channel's new 53-foot traveling stage truck located outside of Turn 2 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hosts Steve Byrnes, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will welcome NASCAR drivers Sterling Marlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch. Fans are encouraged to attend.
* Saturday, March 27 -- From the stage truck at Bristol, Pit Bull (6:30 p.m. ET) features commentary from NASCAR beat writers David Poole (Charlotte Observer), Robin Miller (SPEEDTV.com), Marty Smith (NASCAR.com) and Mike Mulhern (Winston-Salem Journal).
* Sunday, March 28 -- NASCAR Victory Lane (8 p.m. ET).
* Monday, March 29 -- Inside NEXTEL Cup (7 p.m. ET) with Allen Bestwick, Michael Waltrip, Johnny Benson and Ken Schrader reviewing the weekend's action.
* Monday, March 29 -- SPEED Channel's reality series NBS 24/7 (8 p.m. ET). The weekly show follows the NASCAR Busch Series race teams from FitzBradshaw Racing (Casey Atwood, Tim Fedewa, Randy LaJoie), Akins Motorsports (Kasey Kahne) and Braun Racing (David Stremme).
ON THE MOVE
Coming into Bristol, watch out for the following drivers who are charging through the point standings:
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth have both scored four top-10 finishes in 2004, the only drivers to do so.
* Kurt Busch has climbed from 16th to fourth in the point standings since the season-opening race at Daytona.
* Mark Martin has climbed from 43rd to 12th in the point standings since Daytona.
* Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) has climbed from 37th to 16th in the point standings since Daytona.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
In addition to Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch, watch out for Jeff Gordon this weekend. He is second among active drivers in Bristol victories, with five, behind Wallace's nine. ... Mark Martin is tied with Wallace for second all-time in Bristol poles, with seven, two behind Cale Yarborough's record nine.
* "Look at Bristol as a giant television studio. The studio audience just happens to be 130,000 people or so -- but this crowd doesn't need 'applause' signs." -- Kyle Petty (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge).
* "To me, it's the one track that you really get the sensation of speed. I don't know if it's the 36-degree banking, or the fact that you're always going through a corner because you're going down the straightaways so fast, but Bristol is the place for me that my body feels the speed factor." -- Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
A crowd of 20,500 race fans made their way to Bristol Motor Speedway on July 11, 1971 for the 11th running of the Volunteer 500.
Excitement was high as the Chevrolet brand was back in NASCAR competition.
Richard Howard, then-president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, had joined forces with team owner Junior Johnson and driver "Chargin' Charlie" Glotzbach to put a competitive Chevy on the track for the first time in several seasons. The white No. 3 Monte Carlo made its debut in May 1971 at the World 600 and Glotzbach put it on the pole "right out of the box." The Chevrolet nameplate had not won a NASCAR Grand National race in over three years and Howard wanted to change that fact.
Richard Petty won the pole for the 1971 Volunteer 500 at a speed of 104.589 mph. Glotzbach started on the outside of the front row with the second-quickest time. The lead changed hands between Petty, Glotzbach and Bobby Allison a total of eight times with Glotzbach leading 411 of the 500 laps which made up the event.
Six drivers needed relief drivers that day and Glotzbach was one of them. Independent campaigner Friday Hassler had dropped out of the race on Lap 104 with a burned out wheel bearing. He was asked to relieve the weary Glotzbach on Lap 255. Hassler was familiar with the No. 3 Chevy, having driven it in practice the previous day. Hassler finished the rest of the race and won by a margin of more than three laps. It was Hassler's only trip to victory lane. He shared it with Charlie Glotzbach, who was given the win having started the race. The pair had put Chevrolet back in the win column.
This event was run caution-free. That's hard to imagine at Bristol today. The record average speed of 101.074 mph still stands, 33 years later, as the fastest race ever held at Bristol Motor Speedway
What: Food City 500 (Race No. 6 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
When: Sunday, March 28, 1 p.m. (ET).
TV: FOX, 1 p.m. (ET).
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
Race length: 500 laps/266.5 miles.
Track layout: .533-mile oval.