* Joe Balash To Receive Key to Cincinnati * Rookies: Ragan Still On Top; Coleman Looking For Success NBS ETC. Joe Balash Gets The Key: On Thursday Kentucky Speedway will be presenting "Racing to the Square" in downtown Cincinnati at Fountain...
* Joe Balash To Receive Key to Cincinnati
* Rookies: Ragan Still On Top; Coleman Looking For Success
Joe Balash Gets The Key: On Thursday Kentucky Speedway will be presenting "Racing to the Square" in downtown Cincinnati at Fountain Square. The presentation will go from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
At 12:30 p.m. Joe Balash, NASCAR Busch series director, will present the Green Flag to the Mayor of Cincinnati Mark Mallory. Mallory is the Honorary Starter for the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo. In return, Mayor Mallory will present the Key to the City to Joe Balash. ESPN's Marty Reid will be the emcee of the event. In addition, there will be a couple haulers on the square, showcars and interactive games.
Balash is in his fourth year as the NASCAR Busch Series Director. Balash is from Hobart, Ind., and receiving this award from the city of Cincinnati being so close to home is a big honor.
"I don't know how many of these awards are given out, but it is a great honor to receive the Key to the City," said Balash. "It really shows how far the popularity level of the NASCAR Busch Series has come." He goes on to say, "It is an award I will always remember."
Double-Duty Drivers: Another stand-alone this weekend where double-duty drivers will have subs for practice and qualifying. Seven drivers are scheduled to sub at Kentucky this weekend. Matt McCall will sub for standings leader Carl Edwards, while Auggie Vidovich does the same for Edwards' teammate David Ragan; Chad Blount for Dave Blaney (No. 10 Camping World Toyota); Chad Chaffin for J.J. Yeley (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Chevrolet) and Casey Atwood for Greg Biffle. Two drivers will be filling in for the whole weekend; Kertus Davis and Cale Gale will be subbing in the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet and No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet, respectively.
Huffman Makes His First Appearance: J.R. Motorsports' Shane Huffman (No. 88 NAVY Chevrolet) will make his first ever start at Kentucky Speedway. He heads into this weekend with two top-10 finishes looking to be the next fresh face to win at Kentucky and keep the streak alive of never having a repeat winner. Though he has a big challenge ahead of him, he has raced on several 1.5-mile tracks, notching a ninth place at Las Vegas this past March.
Bires Replaces Wood At Kentucky: Wood Brothers/JTG Racing announced June 5th that developmental driver Kelly Bires, driver of the team's No. 21 Ford in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, will stand in for Jon Wood in the No. 47 Clorox/American Red Cross Ford this weekend at Kentucky. Bires (pronounced BY--ers) is a 22-year old native of Mauston, Wis., who has started six races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, five for Wood Bros./JTG Racing. He posted his career-best finish (10th) at Atlanta earlier this year.
Prior to Dover, Wood had started 83 consecutive races in the NASCAR Busch Series dating back to 2004, his first full season in the series. He was 22nd in the point standings with one top-10 finish this season -- 10th at Mexico City in March -- prior to Dover. The Director's Take: Nashville
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT NASHVILLE: THOUGHTS FROM JOE BALASH, NASCAR BUSCH SERIES DIRECTOR
Kentucky Speedway, like most 1.5-mile tracks, is a track where finding the best balance in the car to make the car turn is key.
Most teams will be trying to optimize a "Coil Bind" set-up. This is where the front spring is fully compressed. It makes the car look like it is riding on the front bumper. With this set-up, the nose seals to the track giving the best aerodynamic advantage to the team that can use their shocks to hold the car down the best.
This set-up also helps the car rotate in the corner so the car turns. The last part of the equation is how the driver uses his brakes to "set" the car down on the spring. They do not want it to slam; it must be a smooth compression of the spring.
Rookie Spotlight: Ragan At Top Of Leader Board
* Ragan Answers The Call: David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford) came back in impressive fashion this weekend by grabbing the Raybestos Rookie of the Race award and re-taking the lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings after finishing seventh in Nashville. Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) finds himself back in second after catching Ragan last weekend to tie-up the points lead. This season, Ragan has posted five top-20 finishes including one top five at the season opener in Daytona Beach.
* Coleman Knows Kentucky: Brad Coleman (No. 18 Carino's Italian Grill Chevrolet) will be making his first start at Kentucky in the NASCAR Busch Series, but this won't be the first time the rookie driver has taken on the 1.5-mile track. Last year in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Coleman won at Kentucky defending the lead from eight-time ARCA Series champion Frank Kimmel. After he won he got out of his car (below) and did his signature "'Brad Coleman Bow."
ESPN2 will feature NASCAR Busch Series racing live Saturday, June 16, from Kentucky Speedway as the series makes its only appearance of 2007 at the 1.5-mile track located near Cincinnati. The telecast begins with NASCAR Countdown at 8 p.m. ET, and the 300-mile race starts at 8:30 p.m.
Rusty Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR Cup Series champion and ESPN's lead auto racing analyst, and anchor announcer Marty Reid will call the race from the booth. Pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch. Mike Massaro will host NASCAR Countdown at Kentucky, joined in the ESPN Pit Studio by analyst Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer will be at the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car.
In addition to the Busch Series race telecast on ESPN2, ESPN's signature broadband service, ESPN360.com, will deliver a live online simulcast of Busch Series events in June, ESPN360.com's most explosive month of coverage yet, with up to 102 live events. A Spanish-language version of the race will be televised on ESPN Deportes, ESPN's domestic Spanish-language network.
Ford On A Charge For Manufacturers' Lead
Carl Edwards' series-leading fourth win of the season has helped Ford close the gap on Chevrolet in the Bill France Performance Cup standings as the series heads to Kentucky this weekend.
In the last couple of weeks, Ford has been climbing back into contention for the lead with the Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Arby's Ford) and Edwards blazing the path. Chevrolet still holds on to the lead by nine points with a series-high seven wins.
Dodge is still ahead of Toyota in third place, but Jason Leffler's (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota) third-place finish at Nashville helped Toyota chip away at the nine points that separate the two.
Up Next: AT&T 250 At The Milwaukee Mile
The NASCAR Busch Series travels to The Milwaukee Mile next week for the AT&T 250.
Last year, Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) captured his first series win at his hometown track The Milwaukee Mile. Menard went on to finish the season with seven top-fives and 16 top-10s.
Aric Almirola (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) subbing for Denny Hamlin put the No. 20 on the Pole last June. Hamlin then drove to a second-place finish.
The action kicks off on June 23 at The Milwaukee Mile. NASCAR Busch Series practice, qualifying and the race are all on Saturday. The garage opens at 7:30 a.m. and practice starts at 9 a.m.
The Race: Meijer 300 presented by Oreo
The Place: Kentucky Speedway
The Date: June 16, 20071
The Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 8:00 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race Purse: $1,441,056
2006 Winner: David Gilliland
2006 Pole: Denny Hamlin
Friday--Practice, 5-6 p.m.
Rookie Practice, 6:15-6:45 p.m.
Final Practice, 7-8 p.m.
Saturday--Qualifying, 5:10 p.m.