* First family of racing in St. Louis is spelled W-A-L-L-A-C-E * Bright "Leicht:" Stephen Leicht, Elliott Sadler share Gateway connection NEWS & NOTES Wallaces set for homecoming ... Last year, brothers Rusty, Kenny (No. 22 AutoZone Ford)...
* First family of racing in St. Louis is spelled W-A-L-L-A-C-E
* Bright "Leicht:" Stephen Leicht, Elliott Sadler share Gateway connection
NEWS & NOTES
Wallaces set for homecoming ... Last year, brothers Rusty, Kenny (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) and Mike Wallace (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Dodge) competed in the "Wallace Family Tribute 250" at Gateway. The famous racing family is from St. Louis and began its legacy in the sport in the city. Mike Wallace nearly completed a storybook weekend, finishing second in the race. This year, three Wallaces will once again compete at Gateway; however, Rusty won't be among them. Instead, his 18-year-old son Steve will drive the No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge for RWI, Rusty's NASCAR Busch Series team, marking Steve's debut at the track. Mike and Kenny - who is celebrating his 20th season racing in NASCAR national series competition - are also entered in the event. Mike's runner-up finish last year was his first top-five result in five Gateway races, while Kenny has three top-10 finishes in seven prior races at Gateway. He is also 10th in the series points standings, one of three NASCAR Busch Series regulars in the top 10 this week. Others are Paul Menard (No. 11 Menards Chevrolet) who is seventh and Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) who is ninth.
No down time for double-duty drivers ... Eight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers will use their open week on the schedule to race in the event at Gateway. Six of those drivers are attempting to run full time in both the NASCAR Busch Series and in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Kevin Harvick heads the double-duty crew and comes off a win last week at Martinsville - his series-leading fourth victory of the season. Other double-duty drivers who are entered include: Carl Edwards (No. 60 Henkel Ford - second in points); Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet - third); Denny Hamlin (fourth), J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet - fifth) and Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet - eighth). Also entered are last year's race winner Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) and Scott Wimmer (No. 66 Cub Cadet Ford).
Top 10 shakeup in the works? ... There hasn't been a change in the NASCAR Busch Series regulars who are ranked in the top 10 in points since the June race at Nashville Superspeedway when Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) fell out of 10th place and was replaced by Kenny Wallace. However, Leffler is knocking on the door of the top 10. After falling to 16th following the Kentucky race - his third consecutive DNF including Nashville where his engine expired before he took an official lap - Leffler immediately improved his position five places with a strong fourth-place finish at Milwaukee and has been climbing ever since. The native of Long Beach, Calif., has been in 11th position for the last five weeks, but comes to Gateway only 47 points behind 10th place in the standings after having gained 98 points on Wallace in that span. Leffler's car will feature a new look for the next two weekends. In a partnership between Great Clips, Inc. and Disney, the Great Clips Chevrolet will have a new paint scheme to promote the DVD release of Disney's "The Shaggy Dog."
Seeing the "Leicht" ... Elliott Sadler, then 22 years old, won the first NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway on July 26, 1997. Two years later, Sadler began his full-time career in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Now, 10 years after Sadler's victory in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway, another young driver with a similar story to Sadler is looking forward to this event - and perhaps beyond. Stephen Leicht (No. 90 Citifinancial Ford), who at age 19 will make only his 11th series start and his first at Gateway, is a developmental driver for Robert Yates Racing, Sadler's current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup team. Leicht made his debut in NASCAR's premier series last week at Pocono, having to qualify on time, which he did (36th). He finished 33rd. Leicht is also scheduled to run in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in two weeks. Sadler has run 23 races for RYR over the last two seasons, assisting in establishing its NASCAR Busch Series program and working with developmental drivers like Leicht.
IN THE LOOP: Harvick is the story at Gateway ... Heading to Gateway - a track where he is undefeated in NASCAR Busch Series competition - Kevin Harvick's prospects look good again according to NASCAR's Loop Data statistics. Harvick is 2-for-2 at Gateway, winning consecutive events in 2000 and '01. He has the lowest Average Starting Position of any driver in the top five but also has the highest Average Finish, gaining nearly nine positions from start to finish. His ability to charge to the front of the field has helped him compile a Driver Rating of 112.9, nearly 11 points higher than second-place driver Denny Hamlin. Harvick has also led a total of 564 laps this season, which translates to him being the front-runner 14% of the time. He has also run the Fastest Lap a total of 312 times this year.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford - 2003) and Shane Hall (No. 28 Jay Robinson Racing Ford - 1998) each won their first and to date only Busch Pole at Gateway. Hall is tied with Kenny Wallace with seven starts at Gateway, the most among drivers entered in the event. ... David Green and Stacy Compton (No. 59 Kingsford/Bush's Baked Beans Ford) have each led three races at Gateway, best among drivers entered. ... Kevin Harvick has led the most laps at Gateway (221), while the driver of his KHI No. 33 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet, Ron Hornaday Jr., has led the most races there (four).
Kevin Harvick's win at Martinsville was Chevrolet's 14th NASCAR Busch Series win this season - tying its victory total from last year - and extended its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings to 32 points over second-place Ford. Chevy has 158 points to Ford's four wins and 126 points. Dodge has three wins and 115 points. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with six wins at Gateway, including the first five races there but has only one win in the last four races, a span in which each manufacturer has at least one victory. ... Unleaded fuel will be used at Gateway this weekend. NASCAR's plan is to evaluate the use of unleaded fuel over several NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events this season before making a decision on when it will be mandated for all three national series. ... While his fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitors have an open week, Kyle Busch will stay busy. He will be a groomsman in his brother Kurt's wedding in Virginia Beach, Va., Thursday before flying to St. Louis for Saturday's race. Sunday, he plans to top off his hectic week with the Oxford 250 Super Late Model race in Oxford, Maine. ... As a tribute to the family of August Busch, Auggie Vidovich II (No. 4 GEICO/Denbeste Dodge) will use his given name this weekend. Born August Louis Vidovich II, he appreciates what the Busch family has done for the sport. "Without their support, the NASCAR Busch Series wouldn't be what it is today", he said. "They have helped propel our series into the No. 2 motorsport series in the United States." ... Shane Huffman (No. 83 JR Motorsports Chevrolet), who has one previous series start (2001) will team with Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team at Gateway; this race is the first of five Huffman will enter for the organization this year. ... On the heels of Floyd Landis' victory in the Tour de France, BREWCO Motorsports' General Manager Todd Wilkerson and Vice President of Marketing Matt Crews are riding their bicycles from shop headquarters in Central City, Ky., to St. Louis. The trip, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday, is about 250 miles - the same length as the Busch Silver Celebration 250 race. ... David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), who drives for BREWCO, and his brothers Mark and Jeff competed full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2000 and the race at Gateway that year marked the 50th time the brothers had competed against each other¡Va series record. ... Ashton Lewis Jr. and teammate Regan Smith (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) will visit the St. Louis Rams training camp Friday and meet with players and coaches. ... Former NASCAR Busch Series champions Jack Ingram (1982, '85) and Chuck Bown (1990) will be at Gateway to help celebrate 25th anniversary of the series with sponsor Anheuser-Busch.
"The last two weeks I've had the dominant car and got burned with it." - Clint Bowyer.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
The 2000 NASCAR Busch Series event at Gateway marked the first career victory for Kevin Harvick in any of NASCAR's three national touring series. Qualifying was rained out so the field was set according to points. Harvick started the race in fourth and took his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the front on the opening lap, blasting past pole-sitter Jeff Green and holding the top spot for the first 21 laps. Harvick survived 14 lead changes among seven drivers to beat Jeff Purvis to the line by a margin of 1.338 seconds, picking up his first win in only his 21st series start. Harvick heads into Gateway this week with 21 series victories to his credit, tied for seventh all-time.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" QUOTABLES
"I think once we made it through the summer months, flying back and forth from Cup races to Busch races, I felt a certain level of confidence. It's never over until it's over. But, I knew those were going to be the toughest parts of the year. We were lucky that everything fell our way that year." - Kevin Harvick on his NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2001, also his rookie year in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
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: O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS
O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis - formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park - will host the NASCAR Busch Series on Aug. 5. The track is one of seven on the schedule to have hosted races since the series' inception in 1982. The race sponsor, Kroger, has also been on board since the 1982 season. Martin Truex Jr., the 2004-05 series champion, won last year's event, while Reed Sorenson captured the pole.
What: Busch Silver Celebration 250 presented by Shop 'n Save (Race No. 22 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill.
When: 8:15 p.m. EDT, Sat., July 29.
Track Layout: 1.25-mile oval.
Race Length: 250 miles/200 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,510,129.
TV: TNT, 8 p.m., EDT.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Reed Sorenson.
2005 Polesitter: Martin Truex Jr.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 3,282. 2. Carl Edwards 2,934. 3. Clint Bowyer 2,880. 4. Denny Hamlin 2,832. 5. J.J. Yeley 2,774. 6. Greg Biffle 2,510. 7. Paul Menard 2,505. 8. Kyle Busch 2,414. 9. Johnny Sauter 2,375. 10. Kenny Wallace 2,264.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., July 28 - Practice, 6:15-7:15 p.m. Rookie Practice, 7:15-7:45 p.m. Sat., July 29 - Final Practice, 10-11:00 a.m. Qualifying 3:35 p.m. (Impound).