BUSCH: Chicagoland: Round 19 preview

* Saturday's race at Chicago kicks off second half of 2006 season * First-half highlights perfect fit for 25th anniversary of NASCAR Busch Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2006) -- Following last week's race at Daytona International...

* Saturday's race at Chicago kicks off second half of 2006 season

* First-half highlights perfect fit for 25th anniversary of NASCAR Busch Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2006) -- Following last week's race at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) was asked about his 388-point lead.

Was a second series title already his?

Harvick acknowledged that the series championship is "his to lose." But as the series opens the second half of 2006 Saturday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway -- where Harvick is the defending winner -- he knows historically as recently as last year, Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) overcame a 204-point deficit with only 10 races remaining to creep within 64 points of leader Martin Truex Jr. (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But Harvick's hot pace, wasn't the only first-half highlight. Seven races were decided by .359 of a second or less, and other high points include:

David Gilliland's (No. 84 Hype Manufacturing Chevrolet) momentous win at Kentucky last month was followed by Paul Menard's (No. 11 Menards Chevrolet) first series victory at Milwaukee, his home track. Gilliland is a part-time driver with a new team, while Menard's win was the second consecutive by a series regular; Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet), who leads the series Raybestos Rookie standings driving for Kevin Harvick Inc., opened the season with a surprising second-place finish at Daytona; Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) captured his first series win at Mexico City, besting a field dotted with popular Mexican drivers, including superstar Adrian Fernandez and NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veterans.

The March race at Bristol featured a brief, heavy snowstorm that cancelled qualifying and prompted an early spring garage snowball fight before Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's/Hitachi Chevrolet) held off Harvick for the win. Aric Almirola won his first career Busch Pole at Milwaukee in just his third series event. He was subbing for Hamlin, who was en route from his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series duties at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s (No. 8 Menards Chevrolet) win at Daytona last week was his 21st NASCAR Busch Series victory, tying him with his father, Dale Earnhardt and former series great Harry Gant for seventh on the all-time win list.

-nascar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kevin Harvick , Adrian Fernandez , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Clint Bowyer , David Gilliland , Burney Lamar , Denny Hamlin , Aric Almirola , Harry Gant