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NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes, Music City Rogelio Lopez Hopes To Repeat at Music City Motorplex First-Half Stats Reveal Trends to Watch 50 Years of NASACR Racing at Historic State Fairgrounds Series Set For Return to Historic...

NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes, Music City
Rogelio Lopez Hopes To Repeat at Music City Motorplex
First-Half Stats Reveal Trends to Watch
50 Years of NASACR Racing at Historic State Fairgrounds

Series Set For Return to Historic Music City

NASCAR racing at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville have thrived for decades. Weekly NASCAR Saturday night racing has always attracted the best drivers and racing equipment. This weekend, the NASCAR Camping World Series East returns as the track is in the middle of celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Today the track is known as Music City Motorplex, and the steeply-banked .625-mile oval continues to attract fans and drivers alike. The biggest lure for drivers is the opportunity to take home one of racing's most unique trophies: a Nashville-made Copley guitar.

"It meant a lot to me," said Rogelio Lopez, last year's winner in the NASCAR Camping World Series East's inaugural visit to the track. "We worked so hard for three years to get that win. I'm really happy about it."

It was an historic night for the former NASCAR Mexico Series champion. Not only did Lopez pick up his first NASCAR win, but he became the first Mexican-born driver to win on an oval in the series.

"It's not the same as winning on a road course," Lopez said following the race. "That's what NASCAR means: oval courses. This means a lot to me and the Mexican guys."

Lopez took the lead from Jamie Hayes on Lap 132, and then held off eventual series champion Joey Logano by .110 seconds.

The race ... The Strutmasters.com 150 presented by Dollar General is the seventh of 13 events on the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East schedule, marking the halfway point in the season.

The procedure ... The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. Starting positions 1-26 will be determined by time trials.

The remaining four spots will be assigned through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (93.75 miles).

The track ... Through its 50-year history, the speedway has been the centerpiece of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The current configuration of a .625-mile oval high-banked at 18 degrees was introduced in 1972. The track hosts weekly NASCAR Whelen All American ASeries racing on Saturday nights, and Late Models at the featured division.

The records ... NASCAR Camping World Series East records were established in 2007's inaugural Music City appearance. The track qualifying record (19.487 seconds/110.104 mph) is held by Sean Caisse. The 150-lap record is held by 2007 race winner Rogelio Lopez at 1 hour, 22 minutes, 39 seconds/64.900 mph.

The history ... Through 1984, the track hosted 42 NASCAR Sprint Cup races. It also hosted nine NASCAR Nationwide Series races and five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events. 1970 and 1973 track champion Darrell Waltrip won eight Cup series events at the track. He also has 55 Late Model feature wins over a nine year period.

First Half Stats Give Revealing Look at 2008 to Date

The Strutmasters.con 150 signals the halfway point of the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East season. A statistical review show some interesting trends to watch for in the second half of the campaign. Possibly the most telling statistic is the "home office" of the five 2008 race winners. Independent teams outnumber development teams 4-2 in the win column.

Brian Ickler, (No. 15 Ickler Motorsports Chevrolet) -- an independent team with no sponsor -- earned back-to-back wins. Ickler won the annual combination race with the NASCAR Camping World Series West at Iowa Speedway May 18 and followed up with a victory at South Boston (Va.) Speedway May 31.

Driver Eddie MacDonald, featuring an all-volunteer crew led by longtime crew chief Rollie Lachance, put the No. 71 Grimm Construction Chevrolet in Victory Lane after the Heluva Good! 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Another owner/driver, Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) won the series' return to the prestigious Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course June 8.

Teenagers were part of the series equation for the second year in a row as well.

Eighteen-year-old Austin Dillon (No. 3 Garage Equipment Supply Chevrolet) has led the series championship standings since winning the season-opening event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C. Dillon drives for his family's Team Dillon Racing, which is a Richard Childress Racing development team.

Seventeen-year-old Trevor Bayne from Knoxville, Tenn., (No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet) became the first Dale Earnhardt, Inc. NASCAR Camping World Series East team to win a series event. He edged teammate Jesus Hernandez (No. 11 DEI Chevrolet) at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway July 12.

With Dillon steadily leading the points race, second place has been changeable. Marc Davis (No. 18 Slim Jim Toyota) was second after race one at Greenville. Ickler was second place in points after races 2-4 (Iowa, South Boston and Watkins Glen). Kobyluck was in second after New Hampshire and Bayne moved into second after Thompson.

Dillon's largest point lead was 55 after Watkins Glen and smallest (19) after South Boston.

In most NASCAR Camping World Series events this year, a past champion is not in the field. Last year's champion, Joey Logano, is racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and 2006 champion Mike Olsen retired from full-time driving at the end of 2007 to focus on team ownership.

However, champions abounded during the Heluva Good! 125 weekend at New Hampshire. Past series champs Olsen (2001, 2006) and Brad Leighton (1999, 2000) were in the field. Three-time series champion Jamie Aube (1988-90) serves as crew chief for driver Dustin Delaney. And 1990 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chuck Bown, who was runner-up to Joey Kourafas for the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Series East championship in 1987, was crew chief for driver Todd Peck.

Music City Motorplex Celebrates 50th Anniversary Season

The NASCAR Camping World Series East event Saturday night, July 19, at Music City Motorplex at the State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tenn., is part of a three-day celebration. The huge weekend is part of the track's 50th anniversary celebration.

Saturday's Strutmasters.com 150 presented by Dollar General is the second appearance by NASCAR's top developmental series.

The track's ambitious weekend schedule kicks of Friday, July 18, with an Old School Racers Reunion 30-lap event scheduled for 8:45 p.m. It concludes with a Sunday afternoon 150-lap Late Model race.

The dozen drivers expected to compete in Friday's event include Harry Gant, Geoffrey Bodine, Dave Marcis, Randy LaJoie, Jack Ingram and Sterling Marlin.

Marlin, the two-time Daytona 500 champion, is also entered to race in Saturday's NASCRAR Camping World Series East race.

Bodine won the 49th and final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the track on July 14, 1984. Ingram (1984) and LaJoie (2000) won NASCAR Nationwide Series events at the track.

Mike Alexander won the 1983 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship racing at the track. He also won the track's Late Model division championship in 1978 and 1992.

Josh Adams won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Tennessee state championship racing at the Fairgrounds in 2007.

Andy Johnson of Mount Juliet, Tenn., is the track's current NASCAR Late Model division point leader. He also leads the NASCAR Tennessee State championship points race with five wins, 10 top-fives, and 11 top-10s in 12 starts.

Over the track's 50 seasons, the most prominent "favorite son" to emerge from the hefty Late Model battles was Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip won 55 Late Model features and two track championships (1970 and 1973).

Other track champions of note include Coo Coo Marlin (1959, '63, '65-66), Flookie Buford (1971-72), Jimmy Means (1974), Marlin (1980-82), and Bobby Hamilton Sr. (1987-88).

The fairgrounds track opened in July 1958 as a half-mile, high-banked asphalt track with an inner quarter-mile. Following the 1969 season, the track was enlarged to .625-mile and rebanked to a steep 35 degrees. In 1972, the banking was reduced to 18 degrees, and the track's configuration remains the same to this day.

The track is currently operated by second generation Pennsylvania promoter Joe Mattioli, Jr., who took the reigns in 2004. Mattioli, a long-time supporter of NASCAR weekly racing, also operates South Boston (Va,.) Speedway. Both tracks are longtime members of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series, and both host NASCAR Camping World Series East races.

***

The Race: Strutmastes.com 150 presented by Dollar General

The Place: Music City Motorplex, Nashville, Tenn.
The Date: Saturday, July 19

The Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV Schedule:
SPEED (enhanced replay) July 30, noon ET

Track Layout: .625-mile paved
Race Purse: $118,767

2007 Winner: Rogelio Lopez
2007 Pole: Sean Caisse

Schedule
Practice noon-1 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
Time Trials 4:15 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Hamilton , Geoffrey Bodine , Sterling Marlin , Dave Marcis , Trevor Bayne , Matt Kobyluck , Harry Gant , Rogelio Lopez , Joey Logano , Sean Caisse , Marc Davis , Jamie Hayes , Eddie MacDonald , Dustin Delaney , Brian Ickler , Austin Dillon , Todd Peck
Teams Richard Childress Racing