*Back In Vogue: Series Regulars Proving Their Top-10 Standing *Loop Data Points To Reasons Behind Solid Season By Regulars *Keller's Countdown On Hold -- Three To Go Before Record-Breaker *Edwards Can Become First Driver To Win Titles In NASCAR ...
*Back In Vogue: Series Regulars Proving Their Top-10 Standing
*Loop Data Points To Reasons Behind Solid Season By Regulars
*Keller's Countdown On Hold -- Three To Go Before Record-Breaker
*Edwards Can Become First Driver To Win Titles In NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series In Same Season
Five For Fighting: Series Regulars Proving Their Mettle In Top 10
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2007) -- With seven races remaining in the 2007 season, half of the drivers ranked in the top 10 in points are of the "single duty" variety -- driving exclusively full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series. As the series enjoys its third open week of the season, here's a rundown on those "fierce five" who have put series regulars back on the map:
Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota) currently sits fourth place, the highest of any series regular. He's on a quest to finish in the top three in the standings and is just 93 points behind two-time and reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and David Reutimann (No. 99 Aarons Sales & Lease Toyota), who are tied for second with 3,265 points. Leffler has two poles, six top fives and nine top 10s to go along with his historic victory at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indisnapolis, the first series win for Toyota. He heads into the open week coming off an 11th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway and has the momentum to duplicate his efforts last year at Dover Internatinonal Raceway where he posted a top-five finish.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) is sixth in the rankings and is arguably one of the most surprising of the five to be in the top 10, coming back to the series after a two-year layoff. He's 102 points behind fifth-place David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford). Hamilton hasn't been flashy but he has been consistent, registering only two top 10s but 15 top-20 finishes. Hamilton had another top-20 at Richmond and hopes to keep the consistency going at Dover next week, where he has finished in the top 10 five times.
Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) is the rookie of the group and holds down the seventh spot. But he's hardly competing like this is his first season. Ambrose has four top-10 finishes and was within a Robby Gordon spin of winning at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last month. He currently sits second in the rookie standings and was the highest-finishing rookie at Richmond (15th). Ambrose has been to Dover only once in his series career and finished sixth -- his best finish of the season overall -- last June.
Stephen Leicht (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) currently is eighth in the standings. Leicht is competing in his first full-time NASCAR Busch Series season and is making the most of it, posting two top fives, five top 10s and his first career win last June at Kentucky Speedway. Leicht was 20th at Richmond and returns to Dover looking to improve on his previous finishes there -- 23rd and 34th -- the past two seasons in this event, respectively.
Mike Wallace (No. 7 Geico Chevrolet) is in his 18th year in the NASCAR Busch Series and his 10th-place standing in the rankings at this stage of the season is a career-best. The consistent veteran has collected 10 top-20 finishes this year and after a disappointing finish of 31st at Richmond, is looking forward to this trip to "The Monster Mile" where he has posted seven top-10 finishes including a win in 1994.
David Ragan continues to lead the series Raybestos Rookie standings and is also the top rookie in the driver standings where he's ranked fifth -- 93 points behind fourth-place Jason Leffler.
As one of the NASCAR Busch Series' three full-time "double-duty" drivers, Ragan will be competing this week at New Hampshire International Speedway, attempting to serve as a spoiler in the first of the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
Chevrolet Closing In On Fifth Straight Manufacturer Title
Chevrolet still tops the standings in pursuit of history -- building on a record 13 Bill France Performance Cup titles.
Kyle Busch added another victory to Chevrolet's total of 16, opening up its lead to 46 points over second-place Ford.
Toyota remains in fourth but is closing in on third--place Dodge. Toyota drivers David Reutimann and Jason Leffler are big contributors to Toyota's comeback; currently third and fourth in the driver standings, respectively.
In The Loop: What A Difference A Year Makes
As indicated by even a quick glance at the standings, the NASCAR Busch Series regulars are doing much more than just showing up week to week.
They're putting on an impressive showing as well.
Take Jason Leffler, for instance. Leffler, who is fourth in the points standings, leads all NASCAR Busch Series-only drivers in Driver Rating (77.8, fifth overall), Average Running Position (18.9, fifth overall) and Laps in the Top 15 (2,312, ninth overall).
Then there's Scott Wimmer. Wimmer, who is holding up his end of the owner's point battle in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, has 176 Fastest Laps Run (sixth-most) and 2,658 Laps in the Top 15 (sixth-most). He and Jeff Burton have shared the No. 29 ride and are currently first in owner points, 40 ahead of the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Stephen Leicht, who picked up his first career win at Kentucky, is also proving to be a future star. He has an Average Running Position of 20.8 (seventh-best) and a Driver Rating of 67.4 (ninth-best).
Two In One: Carl Edwards has the chance to become the first driver in NASCAR national series history to win both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series championships in the same season. Only Bobby Labonte has been able to become a champion in both series, but in separate years winning the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title in 2000 and the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 1991. Last year, Kevin Harvick became the first driver to have the opportunity to claim both in the same year before finishing fourth in the Chase.
Series Breeds Chase Contenders: Of the 12 drivers in the Chase, nine worked their way through the NASCAR Busch Series at some point in their careers. Two -- Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth -- have gone on to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championships. The seven others -- Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick -- all have a chance to make it happen this year. Truex and Harvick are two-time champions in the NASCAR Busch Series and both are taking that experience with them into the Chase this year.
Owner Points Battle: Carl Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing have opened the door for Richard Childress Racing and the No. 29 car shared by Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer to take the lead in the owner points standings, even after Edwards' second--place finish at Richmond. The No. 60 team is using the open week to work on re-capturing its early-season momentum as they head into Dover where Edwards won earlier this season. However, RCR cars swept the series races at Dover in 2006.
Next Week: Following its first open week since mid-May, the NASCAR Busch Series gets back to work at Dover for the Sept. 22 RoadLoans.com 200. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Todd Bodine leads all race winners at Dover with three, although he has won the fall race only once -- as part of a season sweep in 1993. Bodine is one of three drivers (Robert Pressley in 1992 and Randy LaJoie in '96) to register season sweeps at Dover. Carl Edwards hopes to add to that list.
Next Race: Roadloans.com 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Sept. 22, 20071
The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 3:00 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Purse: $1,127,483
2006 Winner: Jeff Burton
2006 Pole: Clint Bowyer
Fri. - Practice, 9a.m-10:10p.m., Rookie Practice, 10:20-10:50 a.m., Final Practice, 1:50p.m.-3p.m.
Sat. - Qualifying, 12:05 p.m.