BUSCH: Champion's week, day one notes

NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Week 2006 - Day 1 * Series champion Kevin Harvick, top-10 drivers kick off Champion's Week in Orlando * ESPN Club Media Day and Richard Petty Driving Experience among first day events ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 7, ...

NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Week 2006 - Day 1

* Series champion Kevin Harvick, top-10 drivers kick off Champion's Week in Orlando

* ESPN Club Media Day and Richard Petty Driving Experience among first day events

ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 7, 2006) -- NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Week opened at Disney's BoardWalk in Orlando on Thursday with a celebration of the series' 25th anniversary and a look forward to 2007. The 2006 champion, Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet), was joined by six other members of the top 10 for a media luncheon at ESPN Club before heading to Walt Disney World Speedway for "hot laps" with the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

"It's a lot of fun here," Harvick said. "I'm looking forward to all of the guys coming down and being able to celebrate everything that we did this year. I'm excited to go ride all of the rides and hang out."

The luncheon kicked off a two-day blitz of events leading up to the NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet on Friday night at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel. Harvick will be crowned NASCAR Busch Series champion for the second time in his career after putting together one of the top seasons in series history. Team owner Richard Childress will be celebrating his third NASCAR Busch Series championship.

"The Busch Series has been really important to me because that's where I learned how to race and how to be acceptable in the garage," Harvick said. "The series teaches you the basic ropes of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing, and you still get to be on the track getting more experience."

Although Harvick is the guest of honor for the week's events, it was his wife DeLana who accepted the first accolades of the day. Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig made a special presentation renaming the historic track 'DeLana International Speedway' for the day. DeLana is the owner of Kevin Harvick Incorporated, which fields the No. 33 Chevrolet that Tony Stewart has driven to victory in the past two season-opening NASCAR Busch Series events at the track.

"To be able to come back (to Daytona) and to have won the Busch race two years in a row, taking a look back to where I came from, I'm pretty proud of that," DeLana Harvick said. "It means a lot to me. I'm really honored. How many people get to have their name on Daytona's walls?"

The presentation was fitting, as Daytona International Speedway will be the site of the first NASCAR Busch Series race with new TV partner ABC/ESPN. The Daytona 300, along with the entire 2007 NASCAR Busch Series season, will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

In addition to Harvick, second-place Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest/Henkel Ford), third-place Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), fourth-place Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), fifth-place J.J. Yeley (Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet), sixth-place Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet), eighth-place Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet), Raybestos Rookie of the Year Danny O'Quinn Jr. (No. 50 World Financial Group Ford) and NASCAR Busch Series Director Joe Balash were present for the day's activities.

Seventh-place Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) and ninth-place Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford) spent Thursday at a Goodyear tire test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and will participate in Friday's activities. Tenth-place Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge) was unavailable due to personal reasons, but participated in telephone interviews.

O'Quinn especially marveled at being among such a distinguished group of drivers.

"Racing with these guys teaches you discipline on when you need to go hard and how to race somebody," O'Quinn said. "There is a lot you can pick up by watching these guys drive and being out there on track with them."

Dinner, comedy show to cap off Day 1 ... Kevin Harvick and his Richard Childress Racing team will be treated to a Champion's Dinner tonight hosted by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. The group will dine at an exclusive restaurant in the Orlando area. After dinner, series sponsor Anheuser-Busch will host a NASCAR Busch Series Comedy Night at the Grand Floridian Hotel.

Drivers set for outdoor activities ... The top 10 drivers will join team personnel and media members for exciting Disney Sports & Recreation activities on Friday from 7 -- 11:30 a.m. The group will split up between a fishing trip, a golf scramble and batting practice.

Those choosing the fishing trip will be joined by B.A.S.S. pros and champion owner and noted outdoorsman Richard Childress. Clint Bowyer, who drives for Childress, also will take part in the fishing adventure.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates J.J. Yeley and Denny Hamlin will lead a group in the nine-hole golf scramble. The event will be held at Osprey Ridge Golf Course, one of five championship courses on the Disney properties.

Paul Menard, Johnny Sauter and champion crew chief Shane Wilson will take batting practice at The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, home of the Atlanta Braves spring training camp. Chicago Cubs catcher and NASCAR fan Michael Barrett will give pointers to those in attendance.

FAST FACTS

What: NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet

Where: Grand Floridian Ballroom, Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel, Orlando, Fla.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 8.

TV: TNT, Midnight (ET), Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Final NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 5,648. 2. Carl Edwards 4,824. 3. Clint Bowyer 4,683. 4. Denny Hamlin 4,667. 5. J.J. Yeley 4,487. 6. Paul Menard 4,075. 7. Kyle Busch 3,921. 8. Johnny Sauter 3,794. 9. Greg Biffle 3,789. 10. Reed Sorenson 3,670.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Danny O'Quinn Jr.

Hosts: Marty Snider, Lindsay Czarnaik.

Musical Entertainment: Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

Comedian: Jim Gaffigan.

-credit: nascar

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