* NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion Peyton Sellers makes NASCAR Busch Series debut * Mark McFarland returns after two-week absence due to injury NEWS & NOTES Steady if "not spectacular" works for Harvick -- Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast...
* NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion Peyton Sellers makes NASCAR Busch Series debut
* Mark McFarland returns after two-week absence due to injury
NEWS & NOTES
Steady if "not spectacular" works for Harvick -- Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) captured the 11th top five and 16th top-10 finish in 19 starts this season with his fourth-place effort at Chicago last week. He leads the NASCAR Busch Series standings by 323 points over second-place Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest Ford). "We don't have to be spectacular," Harvick said. This week's top 10 has its share of close battles, however. Edwards is up by 59 points over Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), who is third. Bowyer's position isn't safe -- just 38 points separate him from fourth-place Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) while fifth-place J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet), Hamlin's teammate, is just 46 points behind Bowyer. Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford) is sixth, but Paul Menard (No. 11 Menards Chevrolet) is 51 points behind Biffle. Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) is 73 points behind Biffle in the eighth spot. Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) and Kenny Wallace join Menard as NASCAR Busch Series regulars ranked in the top 10, and both have switched slots over the last four weeks. Heading to New Hampshire, Sauter is ninth with a slim 12-point advantage over the 10th-place Wallace.
Reigning NASCAR Dodge Weekly champ Sellers moves up the ladder -- Two weeks after claiming his first NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series victory in Roseburg, Ore., Peyton Sellers, the reigning NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion, will make his NASCAR Busch Series debut. Sellers won the Weekly Series' national title after a stellar 2005 season at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. The 22-year-old native of Danville, Va., was signed as a development driver for Richard Childress Racing, which dispatched Sellers to the West Coast, where he's competing full-time on the AutoZone West Series for Bill McAnally Racing. Sellers has backed up his championship resume with a solid performance in the AutoZone West Series, including the Roseburg win and four top-five finishes in his first six starts. He'll take the next step in his career at New Hampshire, where he'll attempt to make his first NASCAR Busch Series start in the No. 31 Whelen Chevrolet owned by Ted Marsh. "It's going to be a new challenge," said Sellers. "But I'm thankful to be here. We've had a lot of success in other things we've done and this is just another stepping stone to, hopefully, making it in NASCAR. Richard Childress has given me the opportunity to come up here and drive for Marsh Racing. I'm very thankful for that."
McFarland back after injury absence -- After missing the last two races following a shoulder injury suffered in the late stages of the June 24 race at The Milwaukee Mile, Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) has been cleared by doctors to resume racing this weekend at New Hampshire. Martin Truex Jr. filled in for McFarland during his absence, posting finishes of eighth at Daytona International Speedway and 16th at Chicago for the JR Motorsports team. McFarland was on his way to his second series top-10 finish prior to the accident."I can't wait to get back in the car this weekend," McFarland said. "It's been tough the last couple of weeks just hanging around and not getting to race. Martin did a good job filling in and he gave the team some good feedback that'll help us as we move through the rest of the season."
From the local angle -- At least three NASCAR Busch Series teams have members who call New Hampshire home. Marty Oddy, the front tire changer for Paul Menard, is literally in his own back yard; he's from Loudon. Joe Claridge, a mechanic and second gas can for Kyle Busch, and Jeff Melanson, a mechanic for the No. 12 Supercuts Dodge of Tracy Hines, are from Barrington. Regionally, driver Matt Kobyluck (No. 04 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet), from Uncasville, Conn., will attempt to qualify for a third NASCAR Busch Series start and his second at New Hampshire. Kobyluck runs in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series. Doug Riepe, rear tire carrier for Reed Sorenson's No. 41 Discount Tire team, is another Connecticut native, hailing from Danbury. The 2000 graduate of Immaculate High School was named the 0x086500 Connecticut State Athlete of the Year. He attended Wake Forest University where he was a four-year member of the Demon Deacons baseball team, graduating in 2004 with a degree in communications. Dave Rogers, crew chief for Denny Hamlin, was raised in Marshfield, Vt.
IN THE LOOP: Leffler pushing for position -- Since he fell out of the NASCAR Busch Series top 10 after Nashville when he failed to complete a lap due to an engine failure, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) slowly has been working his way back into top-10 contention. Now 11th after ranking 16th four races ago, Leffler's climb can be charted in NASCAR's season-to-date Loop Data Statistics, where he's ranked in the top 10 in four key categories. Leffler is 10th in the Driver Rating (78.6) and Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (12.571) listings. He's made 588 Quality Passes on the season, eighth among all drivers and best among series regulars. He also is ranked first in the Passes by Straightaway -- Combined category with 554 passes -- 351 on the frontstretch (first among drivers) and 201 on the backstretch (third among drivers).
Series drivers among those testing at the Brickyard -- Seven NASCAR Busch Series regulars are among the group of more than 50 teams scheduled to test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week. The test session, one of six available on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit, was scheduled Monday through Wednesday and teams can choose two of the three days for testing. Paul Menard, Kenny Wallace, Johnny Sauter, Jon Wood, Indianapolis native John Andretti, Kertus Davis and Stephen Leicht were scheduled to test at the Brickyard for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams. Leicht, a 19-year-old developmental driver for Robert Yates Racing, was fifth-fastest in Monday's afternoon session (175.398 mph).
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Kevin Harvick is tied for the most Busch Poles at New Hampshire with two, and holds the qualifying record of 130.716 set in May 2001. He also is among the leaders in top fives with three. -- David Green has the most top-10 finishes among drivers entered in the New England 200 with six. -- Kenny Wallace has led four times at New Hampshire, tied for second among all drivers. -- Harvick has led the most laps at New Hampshire (422), while Wallace is third (238). Harvick is second all-time at New Hampshire with an average finish of 7.0.
ETC. Juan Pablo Montoya, the former CART champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula 1 star who over the weekend was tabbed to join Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2007 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series competition -- as well as in select NASCAR Busch Series races later this year.
Casey Mears' first career NASCAR Busch Series win was also the first victory for Dodge since Kurt Busch won at Texas back in April. Dodge is now tied with Ford with three wins, although Ford remains second in the Bill France Performance Cup standings with 113 points to 105 for Dodge. Chevrolet has a commanding lead with 13 wins and 143 points. -- Carlos Contreras is scheduled to run in select races for the remainder of the season in the No. 14 Family Dollar Dodge for FitzBradshaw Racing. Tracy Hines, Mike Skinner and other drivers to be named also are slated to run a nine-race schedule in the organization's second entry beginning next week at Martinsville. -- In Loudon, which isn't far from the Maine coast, there's one driver who would prefer not to partake of the region's signature seafood -- Denny Hamlin isn't fond of lobsters, whether they're alive or cooked.
"I am so happy to be entering the fastest-growing racing league in the world. I've thought about this for quite some time but the opportunity had to be right. I know the transition will not be easy but I can't wait to get behind the wheel." -- Juan Pablo Montoya.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
The 2006 New England 200 will be the 20th NASCAR Busch Series event to be held at New Hampshire International Speedway since 1990. The previous 19 races have produced 19 different winners.
The track holds special meaning for some series drivers as they collected their final career series win at New Hampshire. Tommy Ellis, the 1988 NASCAR Busch Series champion who won the first race in the spring of 1990, is joined by Buckshot Jones (1998), Tim Fedewa (2000), Elton Sawyer (1999), Rick Mast (1990 fall) and Robert Pressley (1993) are among those having won their last series race at NHIS ... Derrike Cope won the 1994 event for his only series win, while Bobby Hamilton Jr.'s first career series victory came at New Hampshire in 2002.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" QUOTABLES
"Down south I was trying to do a little bit of Late Model Sportsman, a little bit of Cup wherever I could find a ride, and the term was always, "Well, when I carry it down into Turn One, it does this or that.' Then I moved up to New England where it's just all short tracks, very competitive, wild racing up there, and the term was 'Well, when I slam it into Turn One, it does this and that.' They do a lot of that up there. Rough racin.' I really learned how to drive traffic up there in New England, I did." -- Chuck Bown, 1990 NASCAR Busch Series champion.
Note: A NASCAR Busch Series "25 Seasons Running" Media Kit CD is available at-track each race weekend and also on-line at nascarmedia.com. A CD can also be obtained by contacting NASCAR PR.
ON DECK: MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
The NASCAR Busch Series makes its return to Martinsville on July 22 for the first time since 1994. Kenny Wallace was the last series driver to win at the 0.526-mile track, the shortest on the 2006 schedule. David Green was the most recent Busch Pole winner at Martinsville -- he actually captured consecutive poles in '94 when two races were run at the track.
What: New England 200 (Race No. 20 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
When: 3 p.m. ET, Sat., July 15.
Track Layout: 1.058-mile oval.
Race Length: 211.6 miles/200 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,145,468.
TV: TNT, 3 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
2005 Polesitter: Kevin Harvick.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 2,922. 2. Carl Edwards 2,599. 3. Clint Bowyer 2,540. 4. Denny Hamlin 2,502. 5. J.J. Yeley 2,494. 6. Greg Biffle 2,264. 7. Paul Menard 2,213. 8. Kyle Busch 2,191. 9. Johnny Sauter 2,070. 10. Kenny Wallace 2,058.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., July 14 -- Practice, 10:15-11:25 a.m.; Rookie Practice, 1:20-1:50 p.m.; Final Practice, 2-3 p.m. Sat., July 15 -- Qualifying 11:05 a.m. (Impound).