* Moving Up: John Andretti accelerates into Raybestos Rookie of the Year lead * Mark Martin seeks all-time Busch Pole record; Robby Gordon to make 2006 series debut at Michigan NEWS & NOTES * Andretti Takes Raybestos Rookie Lead ... John ...
* Moving Up: John Andretti accelerates into Raybestos Rookie of the Year lead
* Mark Martin seeks all-time Busch Pole record; Robby Gordon to make 2006 series debut at Michigan
NEWS & NOTES
* Andretti Takes Raybestos Rookie Lead ... John Andretti's (No. 10 Camping World RV's.com Ford) fifth-place finish in last Saturday's event on the road course at Watkins Glen boosted him two spots in the NASCAR Busch Series standings, from 13th to 11th. More significant: He cruised past leader Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet) in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings for the first time this season.
Andretti now leads Lamar by four points, and his march up the series standings has been similarly significant: He's climbed from 23rd to 11th in the last 16 weeks and trails 10th-place Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) -- his ppc Racing teammate -- by 65 points.
A NASCAR NEXTEL Cup veteran, the 43-year-old Andretti is enjoying a NASCAR Busch Series resurgence. Prior to 2006, he had one NASCAR Busch Series start, in 1998 at Daytona to kick off that season. He finished 13th.
* Robby Gordon Subs for JR Motorsports at MIS ... JR Motorsports' owner and two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., is recruiting some battle-tested assistance in two of the next three events.
Fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regular Robby Gordon will drive the No. 88 U.S. Navy Chevrolet this week at Michigan and two weeks from now at California Speedway. Reigning and fellow two-time series champion Martin Truex Jr. -- now a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- drove the No. 88 at Watkins Glen. The car's original 2006 driver, Mark McFarland, was released prior to last week's race.
"Martin was a big help last week and we're going to continue our due diligence with Robby Gordon this weekend in Michigan," Earnhardt said. "He brings a ton of experience and will be able to relay some good feedback on our cars. Robby's got more on his resume than any driver in the series. He's raced in everything from the Indianapolis 500 to the Baja 1000, and I appreciate the fact that he's willing to help JR Motorsports out."
Earnhardt himself jumps back behind the NASCAR Busch Series wheel this weekend, driving the No. 8 Menards Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. It's his fourth series event of 2006.
* Mark Martin Eyes Another Series Record ... Already the NASCAR Busch Series' all-time leader in wins, Mark Martin (No. 6 Pennzoil Ford) returns to series competition this week at Michigan with another record within his grasp. If he captures Saturday's Busch Pole, Martin will become the series' all-time leader in that category. He's currently tied with former series champion Tommy Ellis with 28 career Busch Poles. Michigan is the fifth scheduled NASCAR Busch Series race for Martin this season. He leads all drivers with six top-five finishes and 303 laps led at Michigan.
* Tracking the Regulars: Menard, Sauter and Wallace in Top 10 ... The three fulltime NASCAR Busch Series drivers in the top 10 held firm in the standings following last week's event at Watkins Glen. Paul Menard (No. 11 Menards Chevrolet) is the highest-ranked, dropping one spot to seventh following an 18th-place finish at The Glen. Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) remained ninth and Kenny Wallace remained 10th. Sauter finished 10th at Michigan last August, his best finish there in four starts. Wallace's best Michigan finish is 18th -- twice, last year and 2002 -- in nine career starts there. Menard finished sixth last August in his only Michigan start.
* IN THE LOOP: Watch Out For Jason Leffler ... He's a solid 13th in the NASCAR Busch Series standings and 130 points behind 10th-place Kenny Wallace. Which means a good day Saturday at Michigan might be Jason Leffler's (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) springboard toward a top-10 ranking. NASCAR's pre-race Loop Data statistics for Michigan certainly favor him. While he leads no categories, Leffer is near the top in several, including Speed in Traffic (177.079 mph), where he trails only Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford). Leffler is sixth in Laps in the Top 15 (118) and Fastest Driver in Turn 1, seventh in Green Flag Speed (177.078 mph), Fastest Driver in Turn 3 and Fastest Driver Early in a Run and third in Fastest Driver in Turn 2 and Fastest Driver Late in a Run. Leffler is ninth in Average Running Position (10.088). He finished 14th last season at Michigan.
ETC. ... Kurt Busch's (No. 39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge) victory last week at Watkins Glen allowed Dodge to gain some momentum on Ford in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Third-place Dodge now has four wins and 134 points, drawing closer to second-place Ford, which has five wins and 143 points. Chevrolet remains in the lead among NASCAR Busch Series manufacturers with 15 wins and 179 points. Chevrolet also leads the way at Michigan with nine wins, followed by four for Ford and one for Dodge.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES ... The NASCAR Busch Series has staged 14 events at Michigan International Speedway since 1992, with no driver repeating as a Busch Pole winner. Jeff Burton is the only competitor to win a NASCAR Busch Series race from the pole at Michigan. That victory came in 1998 with Burton in a Jack Roush-owned Ford. Series regular David Green started beside Burton on the front row, but Burton grabbed the lead at the start. There were 10 lead changes among six drivers with Burton leading the most laps. The event was caution-free, which kept the average speed up to 167.91 mph, although it wasn't a record. Burton led the last 37 laps.
Note: A NASCAR Busch Series "25 Seasons Running" Media Kit CD is available at-track each race weekend and also online at nascarmedia.com. A CD can also be obtained by contacting NASCAR PR.
ON DECK: Bristol Motor Speedway ... Race No. 26 of the NASCAR Busch Series season, the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., takes place next Friday, Aug. 25 at 7:50 p.m. ET (TNT). Ryan Newman is the defending winner. Kyle Busch was last year's polesitter.
What: CARFAX 250 (Race No. 25 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
When: 2:55 p.m. ET, Sat., Aug. 19.
Track Layout: 2-mile oval.
Race Length: 125 laps/250 miles.
Posted Awards: $1,193,158.
TV: TNT, 2:45 p.m., EDT.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Ryan Newman.
2005 Polesitter: Martin Truex Jr.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 3,778. 2. Carl Edwards 3,335. 3. Denny Hamlin 3,281. 4. Clint Bowyer 3,208. 5. J.J. Yeley 3,121. 6. Greg Biffle 2,835. 7. Paul Menard 2,810. 8. Kyle Busch 2,708. 9. Johnny Sauter 2,627. 10. Kenny Wallace 2,575.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., Aug. 18 -- Practice, 10:15-11:25 a.m. Rookie Practice, 1:10-1:40 p.m.. Final Practice, 1:50-3 p.m. Sat., Aug. 19 -- Qualifying 11:40 a.m. (Impound).