BUSCH: Memphis: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Bryan Clauson and the No. 41 Memorex Dodge Team Facts: * Fourth Run, but First Time: This weekend's run at Memphis will mark 18-year-old Bryan Clauson's fourth career NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) start but his first run at the Memphis ...

Bryan Clauson and the No. 41 Memorex Dodge Team Facts:

* Fourth Run, but First Time: This weekend's run at Memphis will mark 18-year-old Bryan Clauson's fourth career NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) start but his first run at the Memphis Motorsports Park. Clauson, who just graduated from Noblesville (Ind.) High School and turned 18 this past June, has made three previous starts in the Busch Series. He made his debut at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) in early September, where he raced up to as high as 21st before a left-front tire rub relegated him into a four-lap deficit to finish the night in 36th place. He then proceeded to Kansas Speedway, where he started 33rd and moved up to as high as fifth place before falling victim to competitors with fresher tires (finished 23rd). He most recently raced at Lowe's Motor Speedway where he scored a 14th-place starting position earlier in the day and then went on to avoid two colossal on-track collisions to finish the night in 20th.

* Meet Bryan Clauson in Memphis: Clauson will stop by the OfficeMax store located at Wolf Chase Commons (8055 Giacosa Place) in Memphis, Tenn., from 5 to 7 p.m. CT Wednesday, October 24, to sign autographs and meet area race fans. For more information, call 901-371-9123.

* Making His Way Around Town: Thursday, Clauson will spend the day hanging out with some of his fellow NBS competitors to take in some of the sites and scenes of the Elvis Presley's hometown of Memphis. He, along with Scott Wimmer, Jason Keller, Brad Coleman and Chase Austin, will start their day visiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and then proceed to visit Graceland from there. They will wrap up the day and stop in on the Sam's Town 250 Fanfest at the Peabody Place Retail and Entertainment Center. For more information go to www.memphismotorsports.com.

* Standings Update: The No. 41 Memorex team is still 17h in the overall NBS owner ranks, with a current tally of 3,186. The team is 78 points outside of the top 15 and 178 points out of the top 10.

* Chassis: Crew chief Brad Parrott and the No. 41 Memorex team are taking chassis #454 to Memphis this weekend. The car has had two fair runs this year. First, at Richmond International Raceway in May, Juan Pablo Montoya and team started and finished their run in 11th place. Then, CGRFS development driver Kevin Hamlin and team overcame a tight-handling condition and a late-race tap at the Milwaukee Mile to pull off a 16th-place finish (started 22nd) in June.

Dario Franchitti and the No. 42 Target Dodge Team Facts:

* Next Step: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced earlier this week Dario Franchitti will make his NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) debut at Memphis in the Sam's Town 250. The run will mark the third official step in Franchitti's stock car development process. Prior to racing at Martinsville in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race last weekend, Franchitti raced the No.42 Target Dodge in the ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway. Franchitti will again race under the guidance of CGRFS Crew Chief Brian Pattie. In preparation for the 250-lap race this upcoming Saturday, Franchitti is scheduled to spend this Wednesday testing at Kentucky Speedway.

* Chassis: Pattie and the No. 42 Memorex team will run chassis #452 this weekend at Memphis. The car most recently carried AJ Allmendinger to a 21st-place finish at Dover International Speedway in late September. Before that, David Stremme and the No. 42 team scored a top-10 start and top-15 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in late August. The car also proved to be the No. 41 CGRFS Busch team's best chassis last season. With a total of six starts in 2006, the car tallied four top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes. The same chassis played a key part in the team's high point of 2006 when Reed Sorenson drove the car to two fourth-place finishes back-to-back in July at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Gateway International in St. Louis, Mo. Sorenson went on to record a second-place finish in early August at the O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The only time the chassis finished outside the top five was at Richmond International Raceway in May when the team practiced, qualified and raced inside the top 10 all day and night. Unfortunately, a late hit from another car sent the No. 41 CGRFS Dodge slamming into the outside wall and out of the race the remainder of the night (finished 36th).

* Franchitti joins Ganassi: CGRFS announced earlier this month Franchitti, reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Champion, had signed a multi-year deal with the organization to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) beginning in 2008. Franchitti will become the first European driver in the 59-year history of NASCAR to join the series full-time when he assumes the driving duties of No.40 Dodge Avenger next season. Franchitti will run for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year title along with an assortment of Nationwide Series races.

* He's got talent: Franchitti joins CGRFS with impressive open-wheel credentials. The 34-year-old recently captured the 2007 Indianapolis 500 title, becoming only the second Scottish-born driver to win the race (Jim Clark in 1965), before going on to win the 2007 IndyCar Series Championship over Ganassi driver Scott Dixon in the final turn of the season. With over 180 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 18 wins, 17 poles, 63 top-five and 95 top-10 finishes (1997-2007), Franchitti is the winningest driver in U.S. open-wheel history from Great Britain. He also captured the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring in the LMP2 Class earlier this season in his first ever American Le Mans Series start -- much like Montoya did in February at the Rolex 24 At Daytona for CGRFS in his first sports car start.

* Where did he start? Franchitti began racing karts in 1984 at age 11, landing his first crown in the Scottish Junior Kart Championship. After securing back-to-back British Junior Kart championships (1985-1986), the Scottish Kart championship (1988), the Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship (1991) and the British Formula Vauxhall Lotus Championship (1993), he competed and won in the British Formula 3 Championship (1994) and the FIA International and German Touring Car Championships (1995-1996) before making the move to CART in 1997.

* Ganassi Globalization: The addition of Franchitti to Ganassi's stable of drivers furthers the team's international appeal, which now represents seven countries across five series (United States-Reed Sorenson-NNCS, Bryan Clauson-NBS, Scott Pruett-Grand Am, Rob Finlay-Grand Am, Chris Festa-Indy Pro Series; Colombia-Montoya-NNCS; Scotland-Franchitti-NNCS; New Zealand-Scott Dixon-IndyCar; England-Dan Wheldon-IndyCar; Canada-Michael Valiante-Grand Am; and Mexico-Memo Rojas-Grand Am).

* Standings Update: After the No.42 team's most recent run at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where the crew finished 26th with AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel, the team maintained its 19th position in the overall NBS owner standings and is just 199 points outside the top 15.

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Michael Valiante , Jim Clark , Scott Wimmer , Brad Coleman , Chip Ganassi , David Stremme , Chris Festa , Reed Sorenson , Bryan Clauson , Kevin Hamlin , Felix Sabates , Chase Austin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing