BUSCH: Watkins Glen: News of note, schedule

Mexico City Busch Pole winner Goeters among road-course aces entered at The Glen NEWS & NOTES Does Mexico success translate at The Glen? ... Only three drivers ranked in this week's NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 -- David Green, Kenny Wallace ...

Mexico City Busch Pole winner Goeters among road-course aces entered at The Glen

NEWS & NOTES

Does Mexico success translate at The Glen? ... Only three drivers ranked in this week's NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 -- David Green, Kenny Wallace and Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) -- have series experience at Watkins Glen. Each of the drivers ranked in the current championship standings, however, competed in Mexico City in March and half of them -- Martin Truex Jr. (first), Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford -- third), Clint Bowyer (seventh), Wallace (eighth) and Lewis (ninth) -- finished in the event in the top 10. Reed Sorenson (14th) and Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockewell Automation Chevrolet -- 15th) had solid finishes at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Only David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge -- 22nd), Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet -- 34th) and Green (35th) struggled at the track. "This will be my first NASCAR start at Watkins Glen," Edwards said. "I have one road course under my belt, earlier this season in Mexico City, and we finished third. Watkins Glen presents some challenges; it has 11 turns with a variety of banking in the turns, ranging from 6 to 10 degrees. I love turning right and left during a race; it's just awesome."

Wolfe, Smith come home to upstate New York ... Milford, N.Y. native Paul Wolfe, recently signed by FitzBradshaw Racing after starting the season with Evernham Motorsports, will drive the No. 12 Hot Tamales Dodge at Watkins Glen in his first NASCAR Busch Series start at the track. However, this will not be his first competition at the road course. Wolfe competed in the NASCAR Busch North Series for four years with as many appearances at Watkins Glen. He compiled one top five and two top-10 finishes from 2001-03. Meanwhile, Regan Smith (No. 58 Glynn Motorsports Dodge) is returning to his home state as well. Smith grew up in Cato, N.Y., approximately 70 miles northeast of The Glen. His parents, Ronnie and Lee, have been involved in NASCAR Busch Series ownership through the years, and still own a steel business in the Cato area. Smith is looking forward to a large fan base from upstate New York at the event. Smith attended the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving last week in preparation for this weekend's race.

Goeters joined by Contreras, others from Mexico City race ... Mexico City pole-winner Jorge Goeters will bring his road-course experience to Watkins Glen for Braun Racing this weekend. Goeters, who led 24 laps at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the No. 66 Brewco Motorsports Ford, was arguably in a position to win had his engine not expired, relegating him to 38th. He also competed for Braun at Pikes Peak last month, finishing 24th. Goeters will be joined by fellow Mexico City native Carlos Contreras, who also participated in the Mexico event. Contreras will drive the No. 40 Gould's Pumps Dodge for FitzBradshaw Racing, the same car he piloted in Mexico where he finished 36th. Handling problems ended his day. Other road-course specialists who ran in Mexico and are entered at Watkins Glen include Ron Fellows (41st in Mexico), Boris Said (fifth), Chris Cook (26th) and Robby Gordon (40th). Stan Silva Jr. (No. 65 A&S Metals/S Silva Trucking Chevrolet) and Todd Souza (No. 97 Central Coast Cabinets Chevrolet) attempted but did not qualify in Mexico. Additionally, Jose Ramirez, who finished 31st in the Mexico event, is entered in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race on Sunday.

Kelly, Hunter's Hope continue to battle disease ... Hunter Kelly, the eight-year-old son of Frank Cicci Racing team ownership partner and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, passed away last Friday morning in Buffalo, N.Y., after battling the terminal disease Krabbe Leukodystrophy since he was first diagnosed at sixth months of age. "Everyone on our race team, their families, our sponsors and those inside the NASCAR family who know Jim share in the Kelly family's grief," Cicci said. "We are deeply saddened with their loss and our thoughts and prayers, we hope, will provide support in this difficult time." A service for Hunter was held Tuesday, and the Kelly family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the "Hunter's Hope Foundation" at www.Huntershope.org. "Since he retired from professional football, Jim and his wife Jill have dedicated themselves towards Hunter and in the establishment of the Hunter's Hope Foundation," Cicci said. To date, nearly $4 million has been raised for research since the Kellys founded the organization. Two-time NASCAR Busch Series Champion Randy LaJoie drives the team's No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet.

Chevrolet establishes year's biggest lead in Bill France Performance Cup standings ... Martin Truex Jr.'s series-leading sixth win of the season last Saturday at IRP broke a two-race victory drought for Chevrolet, and allowed the manufacturer to put three wins between it and second-place Ford in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. The lead is also the largest of the year between Chevy and Ford. Chevrolet has 161 points to complement its 11 wins. Ford has eight wins and 150 points, while Dodge has four wins and 126 points. Chevrolet also has the edge in the NASCAR Busch Series' return to Watkins Glen, having won nine of the previous 11 races there, including eight in succession.

Sauter takes his cuts ... Tim Sauter (No. 56 Lester Buildings Chevrolet) isn't entered in the Watkins Glen event, but can use the week to reflect on his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a regular season professional baseball game. Sauter signed a contract with the SouthShore RailCats of the Independent League in order to have an at-bat in the team's home game against the Kansas City T-Bones last Thursday night in Gary, Ind. Serving as designated hitter, Sauter was the second batter in the bottom of the first inning. Facing Greg Bicknell, the league leader in wins (11), the 41-year-old Sauter took the first pitch for strike one. He swung and missed the second pitch, but was able to foul off an 0-2 curveball. Sauter struck out swinging on the next pitch. "My teammates were great, even making me feel as one of the gang [complete] with the rookie hazing," he said. "I have a new appreciation for ballplayers and what they go through to play this game at a professional level. I'll watch baseball with a much different perspective now." Sauter finished 40th at IRP two nights later.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

David Green and Jason Keller are the active drivers with the most NASCAR Busch Series starts at Watkins Glen with eight apiece. ... In addition to Ron Fellows and Green, Joe Nemechek (No. 87 CellularOne Chevrolet) and Scott Pruett are active Busch Pole winners at the track; Nemecheck claimed the position in 1997 while Pruett is the defending polesitter, having captured the top starting spot the last time the series raced at The Glen in 2001. ... Fellows led the most laps (178), and is first among active drivers with four top-five finishes. His 6.0 average finish is third all-time. Fellows claimed his first NASCAR Busch Series win at The Glen in 1998 and his first series pole there in 1999.

ETC.

Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Jason Leffler has been released from the No. 11 Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. A combination of drivers, including Terry Labonte, the all-time NASCAR Busch Series winner at Watkins Glen, along with series teammates Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) will share time in the car throughout the remainder of the season. "In looking toward next year, J.J. and Denny will get some valuable seat time at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup level that will allow us to build the No. 11 into a race-winning contender for 2006 and beyond," said JGR President J.D. Gibbs. ... Paul Menard will attempt to make his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at The Glen. Menard, currently 10th in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings, made his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut at this track in 2003, finishing 29th. ... Martin Truex Jr. will compete in his first NASCAR Busch Series race at Watkins Glen, but he has three previous NASCAR Busch North Series starts to his credit. There, Truex finished fifth in a 2001 event, but didn't fare as well in 2000 (29th) and '02 (32nd). ... The NASCAR Busch Series has raced on three road courses in its history -- Road Atlanta (1986-87), Watkins Glen and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s lone road-course victory came in the NASCAR Busch Series at Watkins Glen in 1999, while 1988 NASCAR Champion Bill Elliott won his only NASCAR Busch Series race at The Glen in 1993. ... Kenny Wallace surpassed the $5 million mark in series winnings with his 11th-place finish at IRP. Jason Keller, the series' all-time money-winner, is $39,595 away from the $10 million mark in earnings. ... Matt Kobyluck (No. 50 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) will attempt to make his NASCAR Busch Series season debut at Watkins Glen. Kobyluck, a three-time winner in the NASCAR Busch North Series this year, has made one other NASCAR Busch Series start, finishing 34th at New Hampshire last season. The Zippo 200 is one of two races Kobyluck will attempt in the NASCAR Busch Series this year. He will head to Charlotte after the Busch North Series regular season ends.

QUOTEBOOK

"Obviously after the Mexico race, it's clear that Newt (crew chief Moore) has done his homework with this car. If we can hold off the road course 'ringers' then we should have a good shot." -- Greg Biffle (No. 66 Dial/Renuzit Ford). Jorge Goeters won the pole and led 24 laps at Mexico City in the same car.

"I'm one of the few guys in the NASCAR Busch Series who's already raced at Watkins Glen. Experience makes a huge difference at road courses. When you're learning to race there, half of the challenge is staying on the track. I have eight starts there, so I feel like I know the track well and have a good idea of what to expect on Saturday. -- David Green.

"We had a great car in Mexico, we ran in the top five, top 10 all day. Bad luck ended our day early, but hopefully luck will be on our side at Watkins Glen. I really love road courses and I am sure we'll do well." -- Carlos Contreras.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

The inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race at Watkins Glen International in 1991 was the third road-racing event in series history. Two previous road races were held at Road Atlanta in 1986 and '87.

Included in the field for all three races was Patty Moise, a NASCAR Busch Series regular who gained considerable road-racing experience competing with her father, Milton, in International Motor Sports Association competition during the 1980s.

Moise qualified in the top 10 for all three NASCAR Busch Series road events, and claimed a ninth-place starting spot at Watkins Glen. She drove a family-owned Buick to a 20th-place finish, one lap off the pace. Terry Labonte won the 150-miler from the pole, while NASCAR Busch Series rookie Jeff Gordon was sixth.

Labonte, a two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, would go on to become the all-time leader in NASCAR Busch Series wins at The Glen with four, yet did not post a win in 18 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races there. Gordon, who has won four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series titles and is the all-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup wins leader at The Glen; He also has four wins, but not in his two NASCAR Busch Series tries. Both drivers are entered in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race set for Sunday.

Kim Crosby (No. 26 Boudreaux's Butt Paste Chevrolet) will attempt to follow in Moise's footsteps and qualify for a spot in the NASCAR Busch Series' return to The Glen on Saturday.

ON DECK: MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

The NASCAR Busch Series is scheduled to make its 14th consecutive start at Michigan International Speedway on August 20. Kyle Busch won his fifth and final race of 2004 in this event last year, becoming the second Raybestos Rookie since Steve Park in 1997 to win at the 2-mile track. Todd Bodine and Mark Martin each have two wins at Michigan; the other nine races have produced different winners. There have been 12 different Busch Pole winners as well; last year's qualifying order was set by owners' points due to inclement weather.

FAST FACTS

What: Zippo 200 (Race No. 24 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y.

When: 2:10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 13.

Track Layout: 2.45-mile road course.
Race Length: 200.9 miles/82 laps.

Posted Awards: $1,057,242.

TV: NBC, 2:00 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2001 Winner: Ron Fellows.
2001 Polesitter: Scott Pruett.

NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,286. 2. Clint Bowyer 3,201. 3. Reed Sorenson 3,182. 4. Carl Edwards 2,955. 5. Kenny Wallace 2,890. 6. Denny Hamlin 2,847. 7. David Green 2,629. 8. David Stremme 2,593. 9. Ashton Lewis Jr. 2,573. 10. Paul Menard 2,550.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., Aug. 12: Practice -- Noon -- 1:10 p.m..; 2:50 -- 3:50 p.m. Sat., Aug. 13: Qualifying -- 9:00 a.m. Impound on pit road after qualifying.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Boris Said , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Carlos Contreras , David Green , Tim Sauter , J.J. Yeley , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Matt Kobyluck , Carl Edwards , Regan Smith , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Todd Souza , Ashton Lewis , Kim Crosby , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Chris Cook , Jorge Goeters , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing