* Open Test Session For Teams At Bristol Thursday * Chase Austin Set For Series Debut In October At Memphis NBS ETC. * Bristol Notes: Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota) returns to the NASCAR Busch Series at Bristol. A charter member of the...
* Open Test Session For Teams At Bristol Thursday
* Chase Austin Set For Series Debut In October At Memphis
* Bristol Notes: Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota) returns to the NASCAR Busch Series at Bristol. A charter member of the series (329 starts, 11 wins -- one at Bristol), he's back for the first time since 2005 and will drive for Michael Waltrip, teaming with David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota). ... Travis Kvapil goes from his Roush Fenway truck to the No. 16 3M Ford Friday night; while Johnny Sauter returns to the No. 27 Kleenex Ford (then Chevy/Pontiac) for the first time since 2004 when he ran full-time for Brewco. ... Kevin Harvick will drive his own No. 33 Chevrolet at Bristol, where he's tied with Morgan Shepherd (No. 89 Victory in Jesus Racing Dodge) for the most series wins at the track (four) and has 10 top fives in 15 starts at the track. ... Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet -- Richmond) and Jason Leffler (ORP) have claimed the first three short-track wins of the season.
* Bristol the Beginning for Keselowski: Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) first met JR Motorsports team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the NASCAR Busch Series race at Bristol this past March. Despite driving for an under-funded organization, Keselowski -- set up in the pit stall next to the two-time series champion, who was also running in the race -- posted a career-best 12th-place starting position. Keselowski apparently made quite an impression that weekend, because when Earnhardt started searching for a new driver for the No. 88 last month, he called the 23-year-old to see if the rookie driver was interested in the position. In his four starts since for JRM, Keselowski has captured one top 10 and three top 15s. He also led five laps at Gateway International Raceway, the first laps led of his series career. His average finish in the No. 88 is 15.75.
* Chase Austin Set for Series Debut: Rusty Wallace Inc. has announced that Chase Austin, the team's 17-year-old developmental driver, is scheduled to make his NASCAR Busch Series debut Oct. 28 at Memphis Motorsports Park. Austin's 18th birthday is 25 days before the event. If he qualifies the No. 64 Dodge, he would become the first African-American driver to start a NASCAR Busch Series race on an oval. In 1999, Bill Lester started 21st and finished 24th at Watkins Glen. Austin will team with Steve Wallace (No. 66 HomeLife Communities Dodge), who also made his series debut at Memphis in 2005. Austin currently drives the No. 66 Dodge in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series where he has posted six top-15 finishes in eight starts. "The decision to enter Chase was made in preparation for next season," team owner Rusty Wallace said. "We're planning on Chase driving in 15 races for our new team ... a development schedule in 2008 that looks like the one we ran with Steve last year (with) both limited Busch Series and ARCA schedules."
COUNTDOWN TO 417
Jason Keller has 412 career starts; the series record is 417. He must qualify on time for all but one of his remaining races (Calif. -- Brewco). Keller is tied with Morgan Shepherd for the most poles at Bristol (3).
The Director's Take: Bristol
INSIGHT FROM JOE BALASH, NASCAR BUSCH SERIES DIRECTOR
"It used to be that teams would take their oldest car to Bristol because of the amount of contact on the tough half-mile track. Now, teams build cars made specifically for Bristol.
"Teams are given an additional clearance on the rear quarter panels to account for the extreme force the cars are exposed to.
"We'll see if the new banking helps develop a second groove of racing. The high banking coupled with a new surface brings a different look to the track. It will be interesting to see how the drivers and teams work with those new aspects since they had limited time on the track during last month's test due to six rain delays.
"In the end, it will be a battle of getting off Turns Two and Four and protecting position entering One and Three.
Rookie Spotlight: Ragan Feeling Season-Ending Pressure From Hard-Charging Ambrose
* Runaway No More: Four races ago, David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford) had a comfortable 25-point lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. But that was before Marcos Ambrose had solid outings on the Montreal and Watkins Glen road courses along with his finish last week at Michigan that was two places better than Ragan. Heading to Bristol, Ambrose is within 18 points of the lead with 10 races to go, however Ragan had an impressive 13th-place finish at Bristol in March while Ambrose struggled to a 28th-place finish.
* Keselowski Wows the Home Crowd: Brad Keselowski was hoping for a solid finish in front on his home track last week at Michigan. What he got was unexpected and heartwarming at the same time. The Rochester Hills native -- about an hour and a half from the track -- was contending for a top-10 spot in an event that featured 23 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series double-duty drivers when he ran out of fuel on the last lap. As winner Denny Hamlin was spinning through his victory doughnuts, Keselowski sputtered across the finish line in 13th place to a standing ovation. He's been the top rookie finisher in three of his four races with JR Motorsports.
ESPN2 continues its season-long coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series with live, prime-time coverage from Bristol Motor Speedway. The telecast begins at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday with NASCAR Countdown.
The half-mile, concrete surface has been a fixture on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule since the inception of the series in 1982 and events on the unique bowl-shaped track are always unpredictable.
Dr. Jerry Punch will anchor ESPN2's coverage from Bristol, with analysis by 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro, while two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN DISH Tech Center. Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown -- joined by analyst Brad Daugherty, a former winning team owner in NASCAR's Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- in the ESPN Pit Studio.
Chevrolet Has Outside Shot At Record But Ford Has Inside Track Lately At Bristol
With 10 races to go and 14 wins thus far in 2007, Bill France Performance Cup standings leader Chevrolet has a last chance opportunity to match the all-time NASCAR Busch Series wins mark of 24 it set in 1999.
Chevy's overall performance at Bristol (26 wins) would seem to give it an edge to keep its record-matching quest alive; however, the manufacturer hasn't registered a victory in the fall event since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in 2004.
Ford, in second place in the standings, has won the last two races at the .533-mile track. Matt Kenseth won this race last year while Carl Edwards took the win this past spring. And third-place Dodge broke Chevy's 16-race winning streak at Bristol, capturing this event two years ago.
Toyota comes to Bristol just seven points behind Dodge and has some momentum having posted a win, four top-fives and eight top-10 finishes in its last three races on ovals.
Up Next: Camping World 300 Presented By RVs.com
A cross-country trip is up next for the NASCAR Busch Series when teams depart Bristol for the west coast and a Sept. 1 date at California Speedway for the Camping World 300 presented by Rvs.com. The race will be televised by ESPN2 beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Roush Fenway Racing has dominated the event with eight wins in the last nine races, most recently last February when Matt Kenseth registered the victory. The lone dent in that streak came courtesy of Kasey Kahne, who took Ray Evernham's No. 9 Dodge to the win at this event one year ago. Clint Bowyer won the Busch Pole for this race last year.
Kenseth's win was his third overall in series competition at California, tying him with teammate Greg Biffle for most wins at the track. Bowyer holds the record with two poles at the 2-mile track where Dave Blaney made history for Toyota by posting the manufacturer's first NASCAR Busch Series pole back in February.
The Race: Food City 250
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Aug. 24, 20071
The Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: .533-mile oval
Race Purse: $1,399,759
2006 Winner: Matt Kenseth
2006 Pole: Ryan Newman
Pre-Race Schedule: Thursday--Open Practice, 1--5 p.m. Friday--Practice, 9--9:50 a.m. and 10:15--11:15 a.m. Qualifying, 4:35 p.m.