* Same Only Different: Franchitti, Hornish Jr. Meet At Texas NBS, Etc. * "Veteran" Advice: Bryan Clauson (No. 41 Memorex Dodge) turned 18 years old this past June. He started his fourth career NASCAR Busch Series race for the Chip Ganassi ...
* Same Only Different: Franchitti, Hornish Jr. Meet At Texas
* "Veteran" Advice: Bryan Clauson (No. 41 Memorex Dodge) turned 18 years old this past June. He started his fourth career NASCAR Busch Series race for the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team at Memphis last Saturday where he finished a season-best 18th in the event. His "experience" also put him in an interesting spot; to serve as a mentor to his new teammate -- 34-year-old Dario Franchitti (No. 42 Target Dodge). The reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar champion, Franchitti made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Memphis where he started an impressive third and finished 32nd in the caution-filled event. Both will race together again at Texas.
* Franchitti, Hornish Together Again: Dario Franchitti will be joined at Texas by his former IndyCar rival Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Kodak Dodge), giving the O'Reilly Challenge a field consisting of the last two Indianpolis 500 champions. Hornish, though, has the leg up on Franchitti as far as his body of work at Texas. Both will be making their stock-car debuts at the track, but Hornish won the IndyCar event at the track last June; Franchitti finished fourth.
* Labonte, Richardson Look To Home Track: Bobby Labonte (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet), the 1991 NASCAR Busch Series champion and Corpus Christi, Texas native, returns to his home track seeking his first series win there. Labonte has 195 starts in his series career to go along with his championship. At the other end of the spectrum is rookie driver Robert Richardson (No. 28 U.S. Border Patrol Chevrolet), who is from McKinney, Texas. He hopes to make his track debut at TMS Saturday; he'll have to qualify on time to do so. Richardson, 25, has started 14 races for Jay Robinson Racing and is one of eight drivers competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors. His best career finish is 19th last April at Talladega Superspeedway. Richardson attempted to make the spring race at Texas driving for his family-owned team but did not qualify.
* Painting The Town: Shawn Parker, crew chief for the No. 37 Kickbutt Amped Energy Ballz Ford of Casey Atwood and Mark Rette, car chief for the No. 41 Dodge team, are making plans for a paintball competition between their two teams. Parker and Rette previously worked together in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage and had talked about such a challenge. The event is scheduled for Thurs., Nov. 1 from 7-11:00 p.m. at the Gatsplat Indoor Paintball Field in Lewisville, Texas (www.gatsplat.com). Up to 15 Brewco members and 20-plus Ganassi members will participate. Drivers for each organization are also expected to attend to cheer on their crews.
* Ambrose Seeks Consistency: With his first career series pole and his best finish to date (fourth) last week at Memphis, Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) got a needed boost. The result was the Australian's first top-five finish of the year and his first top-10 since placing seventh in Montreal. His only other oval top-10 finish was sixth at Dover International Speedway in June. The finish was also welcomed heading into another intermediate track where he's struggled, especially recently. He posted DNFs at both Kansas Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway and has an overall average finish of 26.8. He was 31st at Texas last spring.
* Of Note -- Texas: Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota) won his first NASCAR Busch Series pole at Texas in 2000. ... Two former winners are entered at Texas -- Kevin Harvick (2001, '05, '06) and Matt Kenseth (2004, '07). Kenseth owns the most top fives (five), top 10s (10) and most starts (12) in series competition at the track. ... Harvick's next win will be the 32nd of his series career and will vault him into second place on the all-time list. He's currently tied with Jack Ingram with 31 victories. The two-time and reigning series champion averages a win every six starts -- it has been seven starts since his last victory (Watkins Glen). He did not compete at Memphis.
The Director's Take: Texas
"Texas Motor Speedway is the last of the 1.5-mile tri-ovals for the NASCAR Busch Series this season. The frontstretch is 920 feet longer than the backstretch and has a double dogleg configuration.
"Drivers will be looking to hit their marks entering the corners in order to get the car to 'set' and 'rotate' to get a good exit.
"Texas provides multiple grooves for passing. And this track is all about aero and having the car's body at the right angle of attack with little drag for speed, yet enough downforce to turn.
"Drivers will give each other more room on the track, which should help reduce the number of cautions that we saw last week at Memphis."
2007 NASCAR Busch Series Champions Week
The 2007 NASCAR Busch Series Champion's Week media activities with the series champion, top 10 drivers in the final standings and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year will be held Dec. 6-7 in Orlando, Fla.
Final Push: Can Toyota Rally For Third-Place Breakthrough?
Chevrolet, having already crowned the 2007 Bill France Performance Cup champion and Ford, this season's probable runner-up, may be favorites in the final three races of the season as the leaders in manufacturer wins at Texas (Chevrolet -- 6), Phoenix International Raceway (Ford -- 6) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Chevy -- 6), respectively.
But Toyota's second-half surge and its 10-point deficit to third-place Dodge gives the manufacturers' race some late-season drama. This is the closest Toyota has been to Dodge since a 10-point advantage by Dodge following the race at California Speedway in early September.
Toyota won its second series race last Saturday at Memphis as David Reutimann registered his first career NASCAR Busch Series victory. Jason Leffler won Toyota's inaugural series race in July at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
Dodge has one win in that 11-race span -- Kasey Kahne's victory at Bristol last August.
Up Next: Arizona.Travel 200 At Phoenix International Raceway
A final race out west for the NASCAR Busch Series in 2007 waits next week at Phoenix International Raceway. The Arizona.Travel 200 will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Matt Kenseth won last year's race from the Busch Pole; the second consecutive season a Roush Fenway Racing driver had done so. Carl Edwards won the 2005 fall event from the pole, the first driver in the first eight series races at the 1-mile track to accomplish the feat.
Greg Biffle, another Roush Fenway team member, is the only driver with multiple wins at Phoenix (2001, spring '05). A driver now with Roush Fenway, Jamie McMurray, won in 2004.
Jason Leffler owns two poles at Phoenix (2000, spring '06), the most of any driver.
Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer, the Richard Childress Racing duo that has forged a stout lead in the owner points, have each won a race at Phoenix -- Burton in 2000 and Wimmer in '02.
The Race: O'Reilly Challenge
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Nov. 3, 20071
The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race Purse: $1,244,106
2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2006 Pole: Mark Martin
Friday--Practice, 9-10:00 a.m.; Rookie Practice, 10:10-10:40 a.m.; Final Practice, 10:55-11:55 a.m.; Qualifying, 5:35 p.m. (impound).