NEWS & NOTES: * Remembering a champion ... Ten years ago, Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, died in a plane crash en route to Bristol Motor Speedway, along with pilot Charlie Campbell and two men affiliated with Kulwicki's ...
NEWS & NOTES:
* Remembering a champion ... Ten years ago, Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, died in a plane crash en route to Bristol Motor Speedway, along with pilot Charlie Campbell and two men affiliated with Kulwicki's sponsor, Hooters Restaurant: Mark Brooks, son of Hooters Chairman Bob Brooks; and Dan Duncan, vice president of motorsports marketing for Hooters. Those four will be honored this weekend at Bristol as Hooters will field a "memorial car." The No. 11 Hooters Ford, driven by Brett Bodine, will have a special paint scheme of platinum and orange and will have a "Four Champions Memorial Crest" on the hood.
* Charting the NASCAR Top 10 ... After five weeks of the season, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) is the leader of the NASCAR Top 10 for the second consecutive week. Kenseth retained the top spot after finishing eighth at Darlington. ... Ricky Craven jumped to No. 5 in the NASCAR Top 10 by winning Darlington, after coming into that event 16th in series points. ... This week there are five new arrivals to the NASCAR Top 10: Craven, No. 6 Kurt Busch, seventh-place Dave Blaney (No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford), ninth-place Joe Nemechek (No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet) and 10th-place Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). ... Second-place Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet), third-place Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) and eighth-place Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) have been in the NASCAR Top 10 every week of this season.
* Yates operation hooks up with another "winner" for new deal ... Robert Yates Racing, which fields cars driven by Sadler and Dale Jarrett, has added Winner International as an associate sponsor. The deal involves The Club and a new WI product, Juice Batteries. Chairman/CEO of Winner International, James Winner, said NASCAR is a "perfect fit for us to reach our core-brand audiences -- the passionate segment of 18 to 34-year-old NASCAR enthusiasts." The associate sponsorship program marks Winner's first foray into NASCAR driver or team sponsorship.
* 'POWER' in the Pits, Week 5 ... The pit crew of Jeff Green (No. 30 America Online Chevrolet) won the McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship Award for Darlington. Among teams eligible for the award (eligibility based on a team's involvement in the contingency program), Green's team had the least amount of pit-stop time, 286 seconds. The No. 24 team won $20,000.
* Earnhardt Jr. in another kind of "Fastlane" ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) has a cameo role, playing himself, in a March 28 episode of the FOX show "Fastlane" (8 p.m. ET and PT). The show is about two undercover police officers fighting crime in Los Angeles; the show stars Peter Facinelli ("The Scorpion King," "Riding in Cars with Boys"), Bill Bellamy ("Any Given Sunday," "The Brothers") and Tiffani Thiessen ("Beverly Hills 90210," "The Ladies Man") and airs Fridays.
* Roles change on Harvick's team; he and Berrier back together ... Todd Berrier has been named crew chief of Richard Childress Racing's (RCR) No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, driven by Kevin Harvick. Former crew chief Gil Martin is now the team manager.
"Todd and Kevin worked great together in the NASCAR Busch Series so we made the change to jumpstart the season for the GM Goodwrench team," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc.
Berrier was the crew chief for Harvick in 2000 and 2001 with RCR's No. 2 ACDelco NASCAR Busch Series team. That association resulted in eight victories, eight pole positions, the series' Raybestos Rookie of the Year title for Harvick in 2000 and the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2001.
* TV timeout ... National ratings for the Bass Pro Shop MBNA 500, held at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 9 and televised by FOX, show a 7% increase from 2002. The 6.4 rating made the race the highest-rated sports program of the weekend. The rating was the second-highest for a NASCAR Winston Cup race at Atlanta. There were 9,853,000 viewers for the race. (All figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research.) An average of 6,863,000 households tuned in, an 8% increase from 2002.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* When assessing excellence at Bristol, start with Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and go from there. Wallace leads active drivers in several Bristol categories: victories (nine), top-five finishes (20) and average finish (8.37). Wallace got the first of his 54 career NASCAR Winston Cup wins at the 1986 Bristol spring race. He has led at least one lap in 24 of his 38 Bristol events.
* Jeff Gordon has five Bristol victories. Gordon has finished eighth or better in 13 of the last 16 BMS races. His victory total is second behind Wallace among active drivers.
* "I love Bristol. It's the fastest half mile in the world and is like a huge cereal bowl. Driving there is real physical on the drivers but it's so much fun for the fans. We beat and bang on each other all day long at Bristol for 500 laps. ... It's tracks like this that really make my job worthwhile -- [160,000] screaming fans on their feet is hard to describe. Racing at Bristol is always special to me because I won my first NASCAR Winston Cup race there." -- Elliott Sadler, winner of the 2001 Food City 500 at BMS.
* "The first time I went [to Bristol] I was amazed. I went there in '96 with Harry Ranier's NASCAR Busch Series team. We came through that gate and got down into the infield, I looked up and never saw a sight like what I saw that day. I felt like I walked into a football stadium with the stands the way that they are. I never even saw the track for the first 30 seconds. I saw all the grandstands and I thought, 'Man, they put that many people in this small race track?' I didn't think it could be done. Since then they've put in even more seats. Each year it keeps getting bigger and bigger." -- Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who openly calls Bristol his "favorite" race track.
* "Bristol is just an exciting race for the fans and competitors. I don't think there's anybody that doesn't get excited about going to Bristol. It's a frustrating, and fun place to race. I think one of the things that make it so exciting is the 160,000 fans that are crammed in here, and it just gets your adrenaline going. With all of the new tracks being built around the country, I've always wondered why someone doesn't build something like Bristol because there's never an unsold seat at Bristol." -- Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford).
* "You go around to different places and talking with fans and they all like to go to Bristol. It's a place where you can sit up high and look right down on the track and see everything that's going on." -- Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge).
* "Nobody gets treated nicely at Bristol. Everybody gets moved out of the way." -- Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge), a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, when asked if he has earned enough respect to be treated nicely at Bristol by his peers.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
* At Bristol Motor Speedway, starting position is more important than one might think. Despite the fact the racing is extremely close-quarters with positions changing constantly throughout the field, it pays to start close to the front. In the previous 84 NASCAR Winston Cup races at BMS, only 13 times has the winner started outside the top 10; 32 times the race winner has started on the front row.
Food City 500, (Race 6 of 36 in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series).
Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.
Race: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, March 23.
TV: FOX (12:30 ET start).
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice, 11:20 a.m.-1:20 p.m. Qualifying, 3:05 p.m. Saturday -- Practice, 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 11:10-11:55 a.m.