* Gilliland's improbable win gives Chevrolet 300th NASCAR Busch Series victory * Sorenson's absence at Milwaukee leaves six drivers attempting double-duty NEWS & NOTES Gilliland's win one for the record books -- and the ages? ... David ...
* Gilliland's improbable win gives Chevrolet 300th NASCAR Busch Series victory
* Sorenson's absence at Milwaukee leaves six drivers attempting double-duty
NEWS & NOTES
Gilliland's win one for the record books -- and the ages? ... David Gilliland's (No. 84 Hype Manufacturing Chevrolet) thrilling win at Kentucky last weekend is the stuff of "instant classic" lore. A start-up team, a driver with seven series starts and a first-time start at the track in an event featuring three former NASCAR Busch Series champions, three former race winners and nine full or part-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitors were just some of the obstacles he overcame. Not to mention the pass of J.J. Yeley (No. 18 VIgoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) with 10 laps to go and holding off the pack following a restart after a caution with six laps left. Gilliland's win was historic in another sense as it was the 300th victory for Chevrolet in NASCAR Busch Series competition. The victory was reminiscent of that of another Wisconsin driver -- and his fellow Badger State crew chief -- as far as significant series wins in this, the 25th anniversary season of the NASCAR Busch Series. Matt Kenseth bumped Tony Stewart out of the lead in the third turn of the last lap at Rockingham on Feb. 21, 1998 to pick up his first series victory. The independent team, led by crew chief Robbie Reiser, was later picked up by Jack Roush, a move which eventually led to Kenseth's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship in 2003.
Then there were six -- Sorenson out of full-time mix ... Milwaukee is the third of three consecutive stand-alone events on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule and the toughest travel situation to date for the six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regulars attempting to run full-time in both series -- six now as Reed Sorenson will remain in California while his Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate David Stremme (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) steps in at Milwaukee. Stremme is being replaced at Infineon by road-ace Scott Pruett. "If we were a little better off in the point standings (11th), I would more than likely be making the trip to Milwaukee," Sorenson said. It was a tough decision, but I know David will do a great job." Stremme has been strong at The Mile, with one pole, two top-five starts and three top-five finishes. His best results were in June 2004, when he started on the pole and went on to finish second. "I feel good because I've had nothing but top-fives there and should have won the race two years ago," Stremme said.
Frequent flyer miles pile up for double-duty drivers ... The six remaining drivers attempting the "double" have over 9,000 miles of travel ahead of them this weekend. NASCAR Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest Ford), Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), J.J. Yeley and Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) are scheduled to depart Infineon as soon as possible following the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup practice that ends at 11:55 a.m. PT on Saturday. "This weekend's Busch race will be the hardest of the non-companion events because we will have to start the race without any practice or qualifying," Harvick said. "We will also have to start in the back of the field. We will have to depend on what we have done [at Milwaukee] in the past." Substitute drivers will remain the same for four of the six dual competitors -- Randy LaJoie for Harvick Hank Parker Jr. for Edwards, Brandon Miller for Bowyer and Casey Atwood for Yeley. Aric Almirola will sub for Denny Hamlin at Milwaukee; Kevin Hamlin (no relation) had been in that position at Nashville and Kentucky and Dennis Setzer who will be competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Milwaukee will practice for Kyle Busch. Justin Labonte had held that substitute position previously.
IN THE LOOP: Johnny-on-the-spot at Milwaukee? ... The fit couldn't be better for defending race winner Johnny Sauter upon his return to The Milwaukee Mile. Sauter should be primed for another top finish and a bump up in the standings according to NASCAR's Loop Data statistics from last year's race. Ninth in the points standings without an upward move in the rankings in his last two races, Sauter dominated this event in 2005. Loop Data shows how he was able to win from the Busch Pole by leading 162 laps and running in the top 15 on all but four of the 200 laps, helping him post the best Average Running Position of 2.300 and a near-perfect Driver Rating of 145.8. Sauter also completed 65 of the fastest laps and ranked in the top five of all six speed-related Loop Data categories. For the complete Loop Data statistics report and a glossary of category terms, go to www.nascarmedia.com.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Two former winners are entered at Milwaukee, the defending race winner Johnny Sauter and the 1994 winner Mike Wallace (No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge). ... Four former Busch Pole winners are also entered; last year's winner Johnny Sauter, David Stremme (2004), Kevin Harvick (2001) and David Green (1994). ... Among drivers entered at Milwaukee, Green leads in starts (10), top fives (three), top 10s (five), and races led (five). Stremme is best among those entered in average finish at The Mile (3.3).
ETC. David Gilliland's surprising victory at Kentucky was the 300th for Chevrolet in 749 NASCAR Busch Series races to date. Chevy enters Milwaukee -- where it leads all manufacturers with seven wins -- with a comfortable 24-point lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Chevrolet has 11 wins to three victories and 97 points for second-place Ford and two wins and 86 points for Dodge. ... Tim Sauter, who last year took an at-bat in a professional baseball game with the Gary (Ind.) Southshore RailCats of the independent Northern League, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch prior to the Milwaukee Brewers -- Detroit Tigers game on Wednesday afternoon (1:05 CT start). His next start will be the 100th of his series career. Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) is also slated to make his 100th series start in his next outing. ... Todd Kluever, who with his brother Tim owns Nora's Tavern in Deerfield, will host a media dinner at Nora's on Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. Contact Kluever's public relations representative Lori Halbeisen at email@example.com for further information. ... Along with the regular NASCAR Busch Series drivers entered at Milwaukee, many team members are also from Wisconsin. Topping the list are crew chiefs Jimmy Fennig (Roush Racing -- Milwaukee), Dan Stillman (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet -- Menasha) and Joe Shear Jr. (No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge -- Clinton). Jered Lynch, a mechanic on the No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge of Steve Wallace, is another Milwaukee native.
Four other drivers are scheduled for double-duty this weekend at Milwaukee -- in NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, that is. Johnny Sauter, David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge), Erin Crocker (No. 9 Etc. Dodge) and Mike Bliss (No. 34 Ameriform Chevrolet). The global headquarters for Rockwell Automation, the sponsor for Denny Hamlin's No. 20 Chevrolet, is based in Milwaukee while Kimberly-Clark, the sponsor of David Green's No. 27 Ford, was founded in 1872 in Neenah, Wis., and still has a significant presence in the town.
"Seems like every time I go back to Wisconsin, I bring back some good Wisconsin cheese and cheese curds. This year I'd love to bring back a trophy to go with the cheese." -- Dan Stillman, crew chief for Menard and a native of Menasha, Wis.
"You don't get to many opportunities to fly across the country in nice jets to be able to do what you love and race. This [is] like racing back at home in Kansas. Coming home at two or three in the morning, tired and worn out -- pull into the gas station and get a worn-out burrito or a hot dog that's been on the grill all day." -- Clint Bowyer on back-and-forth travel.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
The Milwaukee Mile, the oldest race track on which the NASCAR Busch Series competes, opened in 1903 with NASCAR making its first appearance in 1984. The track, known as Wisconsin State Fair Park at the time, first hosted the series for a 200-miler on May 13, 1984. It was the 10th race of the NASCAR Busch Series season.
Many of NASCAR's brightest stars, including Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, turned out to compete in that first event. Future stars Dale Jarrett, Alan Kulwicki, a home-state driver from Greenfield, Wis., and Davey Allison also were there, along with Wisconsin short-track legend Dick Trickle (Wisconsin Rapids).
Defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Sam Ard bested the field of 26 cars for his fourth victory of the season, winning by two seconds over Kulwicki. Ard went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championship that year.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" QUOTEABLES
"As I chased championships and wins over the 1993, '94, '96 and most recently 2003 seasons, I've learned that this race track is one where you can gain some real momentum for the final half of the season." -- David Green, the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, on the championship stigma attached to The Milwaukee Mile.
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: DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY The final restrictor plate race of the season for the NASCAR Busch Series is scheduled for June 30 at Daytona International Speedway. Two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. won the race last summer, while Kevin Harvick claimed the Busch Pole.
What: AT&T 250 (Race No. 17 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee Wis.
When: 9:05 p.m. ET, Sat., June 24.
Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Length: 250 miles/250 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,130,339.
TV: FX, 8:30 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Johnny Sauter.
2005 Polesitter: Johnny Sauter.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 2,541. 2. Carl Edwards 2,169. 3. Denny Hamlin 2,128. 4. Clint Bowyer 2,125. 5. Greg Biffle 2,025. 6. J.J. Yeley 2,030. 7. Kyle Busch 1,948. 8. Paul Menard 1,925. 9. Johnny Sauter 1,720. 10. Kenny Wallace 1,719.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat. June 24 -- Practice, 10-11:00 a.m.; Rookie Practice, 11:30-Noon; Final Practice, Noon-1 p.m. Qualifying 5:05 p.m. (Impound).