Off-week allows Truex some breathing room in points battle with Busch Bliss, Mike Wallace post top-10 finishes in RIR NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race NEWS & NOTES Truex extends lead on Busch ... Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) gained...
Off-week allows Truex some breathing room in points battle with Busch
Bliss, Mike Wallace post top-10 finishes in RIR NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race
NEWS & NOTES
Truex extends lead on Busch ... Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) gained 10 points on second-place Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) in the NASCAR Busch Series standings following the Emerson Radio 250 at Richmond last Friday night. Truex entered the event with a 95-point lead over Busch, who had posted his first series win at RIR this spring in addition to setting a new qualifying record. Truex finished third -- his fourth top five in the last six races -- while Busch was fifth and lost ground despite the fourth top-five finish in his last five outings. "It's a shame that we didn't get the finish that we needed or wanted, but we'll go on to Dover in two weeks and see what we can get," Busch said. Truex, meanwhile, will attempt his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at New Hampshire. The Mayetta, N.J., native practiced, qualified and ran 237 laps in the July NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Loudon for his NASCAR Busch Series Chance 2 team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. when injuries prevented Earnhardt from finishing the event. Truex will drive DEI's No. 1 Enterprise Rent-A-Car Chevrolet at the track where he secured his first NASCAR Busch North Series pole and win in July 2000.
Bliss, Wallace have record runs in RIR NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race ... Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) and Mike Wallace (No. 4 GEICO Chevrolet) posted the best-ever finishes among two NASCAR Busch Series regulars in a NASCAR premier series race in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond last Saturday night. The race was the 26th and final event for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers to secure a spot in the 10-race "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup." Bliss, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished fourth, his career-best premier series finish. Wallace, driving for James Finch, was seventh, his best premier series finish since a 10th-place effort at Talladega in the fall 2003 race. Bliss' finish was the best by a NASCAR Busch Series regular in 22 years (see "From the Archives" on Page 3 for more). "I think it was great; I think it was awesome," Mike McLaughlin said of the finishes of his series peers. "They did an incredible job. [Both drivers had] their Busch people (crews) and to come in to do what they did, they did a great job." David Green (No 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac), the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, finished 31st driving the inaugural premier series entry for BREWCO Motorsports.
California race most-watched NASCAR Busch Series Labor Day event ever ... Despite the inability of many Florida and southeast region households to tune in due to Hurricane Frances, the Target House 300, contested Sept. 4 at California Speedway and broadcast on NBC, still posted 5% increases in both households (1,895,000) and viewers (2,408,000) over last year's event at Darlington Raceway. The race, won by Greg Biffle (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford), aired directly against the U.S. Open, college football, NHRA qualifying and the Stacker 2 Extreme Dirtcar Series among other programming. (Figures provided by Nielsen Media Research.)
Chevrolet RIR victory doubles win total over Ford in manufacturers' race ... The first NASCAR Busch Series victory by Robby Gordon (No. 55 Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet) last Friday at Richmond increased Chevrolet's lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings over second-place Ford. Chevy has accumulated 16 wins and 198 points thus far in 2004, thereby doubling its victory total over Ford, which shows eight wins and 162 points. Dodge is third, with two wins and 121 points.
Contingency Corner ... Five drivers are vying for the Featherlite "Most Improved Driver" year-end award which recognizes the driver who improves the most positions from their previous race. Mike Bliss, David Stremme (No. 32 TRIMSPA X32 Dodge) and Mike Wallace have three wins each while Ron Hornaday (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) and Jason Leffler (No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) each have two wins. ... Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have pulled away from the field in the championship race as well as in the battle for the Wix Filters Lap Leader and Goody's Headache Powder year-end awards.
Busch leads Truex by one point in the Goody's chase while Truex is up on Busch by one point in the Wix race. ... Leffler has pulled away from Hornaday in the Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race Award by winning the award in four of the last five races. ... Busch has dominated the Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award and standings this season by winning the award in 20 of the first 26 races. Clint Bowyer (No. 21 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet) is a distant second. ... Leffler's team is also atop the McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship standings with a 72-point lead over David Green's crew.
The NASCAR Busch Series is off this weekend, the next-to-last off-weekend of the season. The series resumes Sept. 25 at Dover in the Stacker 2 Hundred presented by YJ Stinger. ... Mark Green will drive the No. 26 Chevrolet entry for Keith Coleman Racing, a team that will run in select NASCAR Busch Series events through the remainder of 2004 and aim for full-time competition in 2005. Green -- the middle brother in the sibling trio of NASCAR drivers David and Jeff -- has 185 career starts and drove full-time in the series from 1997-2000. He has started 12 races this year. ... Kerry Earnhardt (No. 29 Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Chevrolet) will attempt to qualify for the Stacker 2 Hundred at Dover Sept. 25; the race would be his first in the NASCAR Busch Series since last November at Rockingham ... Casey Atwood and the crew of his No. 14 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet, will visit sailors and tour the Norfolk, Va., Naval Station Wednesday through Friday. Atwood and his crew have scheduled stops on board the destroyer USS Donald Cook, the submarine USS Scranton and the USS Truman, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Atwood, who finished second at Richmond, will also sign autographs for the sailors. ... Kim Labonte, mother of Justin Labonte (No. 44 U. S. Coast Guard Dodge), is participating in the Defense Department's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC 68) by invitation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. She will visit military bases of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard in locations such as Hawaii, Korea, Japan and Guam Sept. 11--17 to learn more about military personnel, equipment, strategy and overall capabilities. ... David Green is scheduled to test at Kansas this week; Green is the defending champion of the Mr. Goodcents 300, set for Oct. 9. ... Mike McLaughlin will spend his off-week at the track. He and his family plan on heading to the dirt track in Charlotte, N.C., to watch a friend run in the Super Dirt Late Model event on Saturday. ... Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) will introduce stars Vince Gill and LeAnn Rimes when the duo performs in concert in Keller's hometown of Greenville, S.C., on Oct. 25.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The successful runs by series regulars Mike Bliss and Mike Wallace in the crucial NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway caused a recall of past stellar performances by NASCAR Busch Series stars who have competed in premier series events.
Bliss -- in a Chevrolet owned by Joe Gibbs -- finished fourth, while Wallace came home seventh in his James Finch -- owned Dodge. Bliss' finish was the best by a NASCAR Busch Series regular in a premier series event in 22 years, and his best-ever finish in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series car.
Among the most notable NASCAR Busch Series driver performances in a premier series event include Butch Lindley's effort in the 1982 Virginia National Bank 500 at Martinsville. He started 14th in Emanuel Zervakis' Buick, finishing second to race winner Harry Gant. Fellow series regular Jimmy Hensley finished ninth, marking the previous best finish by series regulars in a premier series event prior to Bliss and Wallace.
Tommy Ellis scored an eighth-place finish in the 1986 Delaware 500 at Dover while two-time series champion Jack Ingram turned in a ninth-place performance in the fall 1981 National 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Mike Alexander, driving for Dave Marcis, finished seventh in the 1984 Busch 500 at Bristol. Rick Mast captured sixth place in the 1989 Daytona 500 and Todd Bodine came home seventh in Atlanta's Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 in 2000.
Next Race: Stacker 2 Hundred presented by YJ Stinger (Race No. 27 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
When: 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25.
Track layout: 1-mile banked concrete oval.
Race length: 200 laps/200 miles.
Posted awards: $1,001,251.
TV: TNT, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2003 winner: Brian Vickers.
2003 polesitter: Kevin Harvick.
Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,954. 2. Kyle Busch 3,849. 3. Jason Leffler 3,501. 4. Greg Biffle 3,436. 5. David Green 3,332. 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. 3,236. 7. Jason Keller 3,219. 8. Mike Bliss 3,094. 9. Bobby Hamilton Jr. 2,896. 10. Ashton Lewis Jr. 2,870.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday, Sept. 24 -- Practice, 9 -- 10:55 a.m. Qualifying, 1:10 a.m.; Final Practice following NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race (4:15 p.m. start); one hour, time permitting.