Atlanta: News of note

Kenseth returns to No. 1 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 Dale Jarrett set for 18 holes, 2-seat ride with Arnold Palmer NEWS & NOTES * Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: Kenseth back at No. 1 ... Matt Kenseth led the NASCAR...

Kenseth returns to No. 1 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10
Dale Jarrett set for 18 holes, 2-seat ride with Arnold Palmer

NEWS & NOTES

* Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: Kenseth back at No. 1 ... Matt Kenseth led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 for the last 33 weeks of last season, en route to the series title. After his victory this past Sunday at Las Vegas -- which came on the heels of a win at Rockingham -- Kenseth returned to the No. 1 spot, displacing the points leader from the season's first two weeks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). ... Kenseth won the NASCAR NEXTEL Leader Bonus at Las Vegas. The award was worth $30,000. The last time it had been claimed (the award was also in place via the series' former sponsor, Winston) was March 2002. ... Earnhardt fell to seventh after finishing 35th at Las Vegas. ... Eighth-place Kasey Kahne, ninth-place Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) and 10th-place Casey Mears all are new arrivals to the top 10 this week. Kahne made the biggest leap -- 13 spots. ... Mears is in the top 10 for the first time. ... The top 10 takes on added significance this season; after 26 races, the top 10 -- plus anyone else within 400 points of the points leader -- qualify for the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" that will determine the series champion.

* Jarrett, UPS Racing honor golf legend Arnold Palmer ... Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) will be honoring golf legend Arnold Palmer at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend with a special paint scheme commemorating Palmer's participation in his 50th consecutive Master's Tournament at Augusta National this April. In addition to the special paint scheme, Palmer and Jarrett will tee off together at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday (March 10), where the four-time Masters champion now resides. On Thursday (March 11), Jarrett will give Palmer a ride in a special two-seater stock car at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla.

"As you see him and watch him you realize just what a special person he is to a lot of people," said Jarrett, a polished golfer himself who once was offered a golf scholarship to the University of South Carolina. "To have this opportunity to honor his 50th year at the Masters is just incredible. What a special place Augusta is, and for us to have this chance -- our race team and myself personally -- is just an incredible experience that I'm really looking forward to." Jarrett and Palmer also played a round of golf together in 1999, the same year in which Jarrett clinched the championship in NASCAR's premier series. When Jarrett clinched the title in 1999 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Palmer served as the grand marshal of the race.

* QBs calling NASCAR signals. ... Former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman announced this past Sunday that their motorsports organization, Hall of Fame Racing, has formed an alliance with NASCAR powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports and plans to run a full-time entry in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series beginning in 2005.

The alliance with Hendrick Motorsports, winner of five series championships, will provide Hall of Fame Racing with the equipment, resources and technology to give them a competitive edge as a first-year NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team in 2005.

"We want to be competitive right out of the box, but we also know that's a big hill to climb," Aikman said. "With this relationship with [team owner] Rick [Hendrick], we will be able to offer our sponsors a solid all-round racing package. We have been close several times on attracting the right sponsor partner, but were unable to push the ball over the goal line. I sincerely believe that now we are offering a sponsor as good a package as there is in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing. I hope all of this translates into us racing in 2005."

Staubach added: "I've always been enthusiastic about our entry into NASCAR, but I can honestly say that having the huge hand that is being provided by a man I respect and admire the way I do Rick, well I guess you could say I'm way past enthusiastic."

Staubach and Aikman, who led the Cowboys to five Super Bowl titles, partnered with veteran Trans-Am driver Bill Saunders to form Hall of Fame Racing in January 2003. While the team's corporate headquarters will be based in Dallas, the racing operation will be located in Charlotte, N.C.

Hall of Fame Racing's next primary objective will be to locate a primary sponsor as well as associate sponsors in preparation for the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. Once the sponsors are secured, the team will focus on hiring team personnel and a driver.

* Milestone markers ... The Golden Corral 500 will be the 90th race for NASCAR's premier series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The first race was held in 1960. ... Ken Schrader (No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge) is expected to make his 600th career start in NASCAR's premier series on Sunday. ... Ward Burton (No. 0 NetZero Hi-Speed Chevrolet) is set for his 325th career start.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) is the defending champion of the Golden Corral 500. He has six career victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway, best among active NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers. ... Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) has been in three races at AMS, and has started on the front row each time. Newman qualified second in the March 2002 event and captured the Bud Pole at both AMS races last season. ... Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) leads active drivers in top-10 finishes at AMS, with 24. ... Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) has five consecutive top-10 finishes at AMS, including a victory in the March 2002 event.

QUOTABLE

* "Atlanta is 'white-knuckle' on qualifying day. You don't have much of a choice. You run around the bottom as fast as you possibly can." -- Jeff Gordon.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

The 1970 NASCAR Grand National (now known as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup) season was witness to some of the most outlandish cars ever to compete in stock car racing. The Chrysler Corporation developed the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Daytona to challenge Ford Motor Co.'s slope-nosed Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone. The science of aerodynamics had been playing an increasingly larger part in NASCAR racing and the Chrysler creations screamed technology.

The cars were your basic Plymouth Roadrunner and Dodge Charger, but they were fitted with a long dropped nose and a tall rear wing for added stability at high speeds. Bobby Allison acquired one of the futuristic Dodge Daytonas with sponsorship from Coca-Cola. The red-and-gold car was one of the most beautiful to compete on the circuit that season. Allison came to Atlanta in March 1970 and qualified ninth. Allison was never in contention most of the race and was languishing in third place, one lap behind with 10 laps to go.

Suddenly, Donnie Allison, running second, blew an engine on Lap 318 of the 328-lap race. The caution came out and leader, Cale Yarborough, came in for a splash of fuel. Bobby Allison stayed on the track and made up his lap, and then came into the pits for two tires. The green flag waved on Lap 323 as Allison shot to the inside of Yarborough on the restart. Allison took the lead on the backstretch and never looked back. Bobby Allison went on to win the event as Yarborough came up 50 feet short. Allison averaged 139.554 mph for the Easter Sunday 500-miler.

Fast Facts

What: Golden Corral 500 (Race No. 4 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway; Hampton, Ga.
When: Sunday, March 14, 1 p.m. (ET).

TV: FOX, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.

Race length: 500.5 miles/325 laps.
Track layout: 1.54-mile oval.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Bobby Allison , Donnie Allison , Cale Yarborough
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Hall of Fame Racing