* Despite double-duty, Clint Bowyer has sights set on NASCAR Busch Series title *25th Anniversary archive: Steve Park captured first NASCAR Busch Series California win NEWS OF NOTE Leffler heading home to California ... In addition to Lamar,...
* Despite double-duty, Clint Bowyer has sights set on NASCAR Busch Series title
*25th Anniversary archive: Steve Park captured first NASCAR Busch Series California win
NEWS OF NOTE
Leffler heading home to California ... In addition to Lamar, Jason Leffler (No. 32 Braun Racing Chevrolet) is headed home this weekend. Leffler, who hails from Long Beach, finished seventh in the fall race at California last year and is a quiet favorite for the NASCAR Busch Series title this year. "California Speedway is one of my favorites and the fact that it's home for me is an added bonus," he said. " I really look forward to going back there and racing in front of my family and friends." Leffler kicked off his full-time return to the NASCAR Busch Series with a solid sixth-place finish at Daytona last Saturday.
Bowyer starts year off right with double-duty ... Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) started his 2006 season with not one, but two top-10 finishes. One of seven drivers competing full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Bowyer finished third in the Hershey's Kissables 300, and sixth in the Daytona 500. "We started last season as the underdogs," said Bowyer, member of a talented class of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos rookies who have made their way up the racing ladder from the NASCAR Busch Series. "Nobody expected us to finish second at the end of [last year], but we did it and we surprised everyone. I'm not leaving until I have a NASCAR Busch Series championship."
Three groups of brothers looking to race on Saturday ... Sibling rivalry could be the order of the day on Saturday as three groups of brothers totaling seven drivers will try to make the starting field. Scott Wimmer (No. 66 Duraflame Ford) and younger brother Chris (No. 23 Keith Coleman Racing Chevrolet); David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford) and brother Mark (No. 4 GEICO Dodge) and the trio of Johnny (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Dodge), Tim (No. 36 Chevrolet) and Jay Sauter (No. 01 Western Union Chevrolet) are vying to become the largest group of brothers to make a NASCAR Busch Series field since March 2, 1996 at Richmond when four sets of brothers representing eight drivers started the race -- Chuck and Jim Bown, David and Jeff Green, Terry and Bobby Labonte and Hermie and Elliott Sadler.
Another fast ride awaits McFarland and owner Earnhardt Jr. ... Following his NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday and his JR Motorsports' owner's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event on Sunday, Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are scheduled to fly with the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, Calif. -- the famous Blue Angels. "We have a great sponsor in the Navy," McFarland said. "How many sponsors give you the opportunity to fly with the Blue Angels?" Loop Data from Daytona shows race within the race ... NASCAR's new statistical package using data from NASCAR's scoring loops, in partnership with sports statistics experts from STATS LLC, provides in-depth insight detailing much more than just who won the race. At Daytona, although Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Kraft Chevrolet) faded over the closing laps to finish 17th and Tony Stewart (No. 33 Old Spice Chevrolet) took home the winner's trophy, there was a close battle for the top driver rating. Much like the quarterback rating in football, the driver rating has a series of inputs which measure a driver's performance throughout the race, with 150 as the highest possible rating. Stewart finished with a 109.7 rating, besting the 108.8 earned by Earnhardt Jr. Another driver who battled hard for most of the day but struggled toward the end, Jamie McMurray (No. 64 Top Flite Dodge), had the third-highest driver rating at 95.5. Stewart also excelled in the speed in traffic category. He was the second-fastest driver in traffic at 184.518 mph, while McMurray was the fastest at 184.599. J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) and Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox Ford) were the top closers, which measures a driver's improvement over the final 10% of a race. Over the last 12 laps, Yeley moved up an impressive 18 spots to finish eighth and Wood improved 16 positions to finish fourth.
ON DECK: AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ
NASCAR Busch Series drivers and teams will travel from California to Mexico City for next Sunday's telcel-MOTOROLA Mexico 200 presented by Banamex at the 2.518-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course. The course is the third different track the drivers will see in the first three weeks of the season. The 2.5-mile superspeedway at Daytona is followed by the 2-mile oval at California, then the eight-turn road course located in a public park in the heart of one of the world's largest cities. Martin Truex Jr., who won last year's historic inaugural race, won't defend his win, but the Busch Pole winner, Mexico City native Jorge Goeters, is entered and is one of the favorites, along with fellow countryman Adrian Fernandez.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Roush Racing drivers have won the last four races at California Speedway, but none of those drivers has started from the front row. ... Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Pennzoil Ford) has dominated at California. He has three wins, the most of any driver, and has seven top-10 finishes in nine races. ... No California Speedway race has been won from the Busch Pole. ... Jason Keller (No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge) has been running at the end of all 11 California races. He is scheduled to make his 393rd career start in the NASCAR Busch Series, taking over sole possession of second place on the all-time starts list from Elton Sawyer. ... Along with Kenseth, three former winners are entered at California -- Todd Bodine (No. 34 Hunter's Hope Chevrolet), Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest Mortgage Ford) and Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Mortgage Ford).
ETC. Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) will attempt to qualify for this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. ... Ford has won the last six races at California, and debuts its Fusion model at the track this weekend. The early standings in the Bill France Performance Cup standings show Chevrolet leading with nine points and one win, Ford holding second with six points and Dodge third with four points. ... Paul Tracy, who has vast road-course experience, especially in Mexico, will run the No. 4 GEICO Dodge in place of Mark Green in Mexico City next week. ...California Speedway has not been particularly kind to California natives. No driver from the Golden State has won a NASCAR Busch Series race at the 2-mile track. ... From the "odd couple" department: When asked what is in his CD player right now, Mark Green, who finished 10th last week at Daytona answered with, "Roy Orbison and Outkast." ... Jeff Burton (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) has led 3,213 laps in NASCAR Busch Series competition, ranking him fifth all-time for total laps led.
"I hope it was in the water that I was drinking. Kevin Harvick (comes) from out there and a lot of other guys have come from the West Coast. It is good for me, being from the West Coast. It has opened a lot of doors. I think it has shifted the attention out west and (is) giving people chances." -- David Gilliland (No. 84 Ranchwood Homes Chevrolet), a Riverside native on the NASCAR talent California has produced.
"I really like racing at California and we had a great run out there last year. I got my first top-five finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series there last year so I'd be happy to get my first top five in a NASCAR Busch Series car there too." -- Todd Kluever (No. 06 3M Ford)
"This is obviously NOT the way we wanted the season to start, but we can't control mechanical problems. We all know it's 35 races that make up the season. In just a few short days, we'll be on the track in California going for a win. We'll keep our heads up high and do our job on Saturday." -- David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford)
"I think we are fortunate this is the next race considering our finishing position at Daytona. I hope we can pick up a couple of spots in the points standings. I don't think we can fall much farther back, so I think it's going to be fun to race in California. I am totally focused." -- Carl Edwards
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES 25th ANNIVERSARY ARCHIVES
The first NASCAR Busch Series race held in the state of California took place on Oct. 19, 1997 at California Speedway. Forty-two cars took the green flag with pole-sitter Steve Park leading the pack. The field included NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions Terry Labonte and Rusty Wallace, as well as future champion Bobby Labonte, who also won a NASCAR Busch Series title in 1991.
The lead changed hands 11 times between eight drivers with Todd Bodine leading the last nine laps to pick up his 10th career series win. Rookie Matt Kenseth, who today leads all drivers with three NASCAR Busch Series wins at California, came home third behind Park, another rookie.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES 25th ANNIVERSARY QUOTEABLES
"It's just the way things cycle around. Now they're just dying for racing out there in California. It's kind of funny how it all works out." -- Chuck Bown, 1990 NASCAR Busch Series champion, on the growth of the NASCAR Busch Series since his racing days.
What: Stater Bros. 300 (Race No. 2 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
When: 1:05 p.m., PT, Saturday, Feb. 25.
Track Layout: 2-mile banked oval.
Race Length: 300 miles/150 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,601,248.
TV: FX, 4:00 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Mark Martin.
2005 Polesitter: Tony Stewart.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 185 2. Burney Lamar 170. 3. Clint Bowyer 170. 4. Jon Wood 160. 5. Kevin Harvick 155. 6. Jason Leffler 150. 7. J.J. Yeley 147. 8. Todd Kluever 146. 9. Reed Sorenson 138. 10. Mark Green 134.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., Feb. 24 -- Practice, 9 -- 10:00 a.m.; "Rookie Practice," 1:45 -- 2:15 p.m.; Final Practice, 2:30 -- 3:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 25 -- Qualifying, 12:10 p.m. (Impound).