Richmond II: News of note, schedule

* Long-Time NASCAR Scorer Morris Metcalfe Remembered In The Loop: Data Bodes Well For Harvick at Richmond The spotlight this weekend will mostly shine on three drivers in positions 11-13 in the standings -- Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale...

* Long-Time NASCAR Scorer Morris Metcalfe Remembered

In The Loop: Data Bodes Well For Harvick at Richmond

The spotlight this weekend will mostly shine on three drivers in positions 11-13 in the standings -- Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as they battle for the final two spots in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

And though Harvick is closer, Earnhardt just might want to think about training his sights on 11th-place Busch.

The reason: Harvick is a Richmond master.

Harvick, defending champion of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, has amassed tremendous statistics at the .75-mile Virginia track. He holds top marks in Driver Rating (125.4), Average Running Position (4.6), Fastest Laps Run (250), average Green Flag Speed and Laps in the Top 15 (1,924). He need only to finish 32nd to clinch a spot in the Chase.

Busch, though 141 points ahead of Earnhardt, is closer statistically to Earnhardt at Richmond than Harvick is.

Consider this tale of the tape:

- Driver Rating: Busch (100.7) leads Earnhardt (89.9)

- Average Running Position: Earnhardt (13.7) leads Busch (14.1)

- Fastest Laps Run: Busch (184) leads Earnhardt (74)

- Laps in the Top 15: Busch (1,174) leads Earnhardt (1,057)

Busch needs a 36th-place finish to clinch a spot in the Chase.

But the two drivers who may steal the show might be Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Both are winless at Richmond, but both have come close.

Busch has five top-five finishes in his five Richmond races. He has a Driver Rating of 115.2 (second-best), an Average Running Position of 6.5 (third-best), 1,862 Laps in the Top 15 (second-best) and 163 Fastest Laps Run (fourth-best).

Hometown hero Hamlin, who finished third in this race last year and second in the spring of 2006 at RIR, has a Driver Rating of 111.3 (third-best), an Average Running Position of 5.9 (second-best) and has run all but 15 of a possible 1,200 Laps in the Top 15 (99%).

NNCS, Etc. ...

On The Line: 'Competition Update' The Theme For NASCAR Teleconference

This week's NASCAR Teleconference is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, with two extra-special guests -- NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby.

Pemberton and Darby will provide a "competition update" leading into the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Media wishing to participate should call (888) 699-8040 and ask for the NASCAR Teleconference. A full transcript of the teleconference will be available later Wednesday afternoon, on NASCARMedia.com.

The 500 Club:

Labonte To Reach Major Milestone

Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge), the 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, is set to make his 500th career start in the series this week at Richmond. There are several reasons why Labonte's achievement is extra special.

He will become only the seventh active driver to reach the 500-start mark;

He will be the youngest driver to do so, at the age of 43;

In addition to his 500 starts overall, Saturday will mark his 498th consecutive start. Which means it'll be time for another milestone on Sept. 23 at Dover International Speedway.

"I guess I started to think about being able to make 500 starts when I saw my brother Terry do it," Labonte said.

"I've been fortunate in my career, and it's pretty special to have this opportunity this weekend. Terry has over 800 starts and Kyle (Petty Enterprises teammate Kyle Petty) has over 800 too. I'm going to try to catch them."

Metcalfe Funeral Set for Wednesday

Funeral services for former longtime NASCAR official Morris Metcalfe will be held Wednesday (Sept. 5) at Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home on Silas Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem., N.C., at 7 p.m. Metcalfe died last Thursday in Winston-Salem at the age of 81 due to what his family called natural causes.

Metcalfe was one of NASCAR's longest-serving officials. His work in the sanctioning body's timing and scoring department spanned five decades; he retired as Chief of Timing and Scoring following the 2002 Daytona 500.

Some would joke that Metcalfe was a bit over-qualified for that position. After all, he held a Master's Degree in biomedical engineering from Texas Tech University after also attending Tennessee Military Institute and the University of Miami.

Engineering aside, Metcalfe loved racing and began scoring NASCAR events in the 1950s. He became an assistant to then-NASCAR scoring chief Joe Epton a few years later.

A World War II veteran who served as a signalman on the USS Randolph and later a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve, Metcalfe joined NASCAR on a fulltime basis after his retirement with 30 years of service with Western Electric (now Lucent Technology).

Metcalfe, born in Morristown, Tenn., is credited for founding NASCAR's first fan club, in 1955 for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Lee Petty.

Metcalfe was the recipient of many honors during his NASCAR service including the prestigious Buddy Shuman Award.

He is survived by two children, M. Lee Metcalfe Jr. and Laura Boblitz; five grandchildren and one great grandson. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Wives Auxiliary.

Hendrick Motorsports Announces Changes

Casey Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet, will switch to Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet next year, it was announced this week. Alan Gustafson will remain as the No. 5 crew chief being driven this year by Kyle Busch, who is leaving to join Joe Gibbs Racing.

Also, new Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be joined by his current crew chief Tony Eury Jr.

Darian Grubb, currently crew chief for Mears, is slated for a senior competition role with the organization.

"With the resources we'll have at Hendrick Motorsports, it's an opportunity to consistently run up front and be in title contention every year," Eury said. "The goals are winning races and winning championships."

On Deck: The Chase Begins

New Hampshire International Speedway has honors once again, serving as the opening site for the 10-event Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, hosting next week's (Sunday, Sept. 16) Sylvania 300.

Kevin Harvick, who wears the bull's eye (12th place) this week in the standings, is defending champion of the Sylvania 300.

***

The Race: Chevy Rock & Roll 400

The Place: Richmond International Raceway
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 8

The Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ABC, 7 p.m. (ET)

The Track: .75-mile oval
The Distance: 400 laps/300 miles

The Purse: $5,057,510

2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2006 Pole: Denny Hamlin

Pre-Race Schedule (local/ET time): Friday -- Practice, 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying, 6:10 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Denny Hamlin , Tony Eury Jr. , Kyle Busch , Lee Petty
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing