* Robby Gordon trying "double" for fifth time * Reiser wins WYPALL weekly crew chief award NEWS & NOTES Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr. still front-runner ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) won...
* Robby Gordon trying "double" for fifth time
* Reiser wins WYPALL weekly crew chief award
NEWS & NOTES
Charting the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr. still front-runner ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) won the last series race, at Richmond on May 15, and has a series-high three victories this season. It's no surprise, then, that he has led the Top 10 for four consecutive race weeks and a series-high six overall. ... Earnhardt is one of four drivers to be in the Top 10 all season. The other three: Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford). ... Richmond ramifications on the Top 10 were few. No drivers dropped out afterward -- and no new ones appeared. The most significant move was by Stewart, who advanced three spots to fifth. ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 takes on added importance this season. After 26 races of the 36-race season, the top 10 drivers in points -- plus anyone within 400 points of the points leader -- will be involved in the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" that will determine the series champion.
On the NASCAR bubble ... The modified format for determining the series champion has created a "NASCAR bubble" between the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 and those on the outside looking in. Actually, there are two bubbles -- one separating the Top 10 from 11th on back, the other at the 400-points-behind neighborhood. Going into the Coca-Cola 600 four drivers are outside the Top 10 but within 400 points of leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- 11th-place Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) is 355 behind Earnhardt, 12th-place Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) is 362 behind, 13th-place Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) is 394 back and 14th-place Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) is 396 back.
One more time: Robby Gordon "doing the double' at Indy, Charlotte ... On Sunday, Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) will attempt, for the fifth time, one of auto racing's most formidable challenges -- racing the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Gordon previously pulled this double-duty in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003. His best finish at Indy in those four years was fifth in 2002; his best Coca-Cola 600 finish in those years was 16th in 2002. "At Indy, a lot of the work is before the green flag waves, because if the car is set up right and handling well, then that's half the battle," Gordon said. "If you get your car set up right like we had in 1999 and 2002, it's almost more mental than physical. Even though you pull a lot of Gs in the middle of the corner, it's a very mental race. I've been able to do it, slide over to the Coca-Cola 600 and run competitive there, as well. As far as being tired, I still do [the] Baja [off-road event], which is 1,000 miles in a car all by myself. At least with two races like this, there is a break in between and I do take fluids intravenously between the two events. I feel like I'm in better physical shape than I ever have been."
Chevrolet pulls ahead in Manufacturers Championship ... Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory at Richmond gave Chevrolet its sixth win of the year, and the lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Manufacturers Championship standings. Chevrolet has 76 points, followed by Ford (68) and Dodge (65).
Reiser wins WYPALL award for All-Star effort; Eury leads overall standings ... Robbie Reiser, crew chief for Matt Kenseth, was voted the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race after the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge -- won by Kenseth -- last Saturday night in Charlotte, by fans who voted on www.WYPALL.com. One-third of those voting chose Reiser, giving him his second WYPALL award of the season. Tony Eury Sr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) remains in first place in the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge with four wins. Reiser is in second place with two wins. Larry Carter (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), Tommy Baldwin (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Chad Knaus (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Lee McCall (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge), Donnie Wingo (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) and Robbie Loomis (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) are tied for third place with one win each. The crew chief with the most weekly wins at the end of the season will be named WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and receive $10,000.
Nemechek car salutes the "American Soldier" ... On the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the No. 01 U.S. Army-sponsored Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek will carry an appropriate tribute. The Chevrolet's hood will be adorned with a replica of the Dec. 29, 2003 TIME magazine cover that honored the American Soldier as the Person of the Year.
NASCAR TV Offers full slate ... This week on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel:
Thursday -- NASCAR NEXTEL Open qualifying LIVE from Lowe's Motor Speedway at 7 p.m. ET.
Friday -- NASCAR Busch Series qualifying LIVE from Lowe's Motor Speedway at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Friday -- Trackside (7 p.m. ET) from the Coca-Cola Stage in Uptown Charlotte with co-hosts Steve Byrnes, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond and guests Jimmie Johnson and David Green.
Saturday -- From the stage truck at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Turns 3 & 4, Pit Bull (6:30 p.m. ET) features NASCAR writers David Poole (Charlotte Observer), Ben Blake (Racer Magazine), Marty Smith (NASCAR.com) and Mike Mulhern (Winston-Salem Journal). Pit Bull is hosted by Steve Byrnes.
Sunday -- SPEEDNews NASCAR Edition (7 p.m. and midnight ET) co-hosted by Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen and Connie LeGrand. Bob Dillner, Robin Miller, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond are regular contributors.
Sunday -- NASCAR Victory Lane (8 p.m. ET) Host John Roberts is joined by NASCAR drivers Kenny Wallace and Chad Little, offering post-race coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 weekend.
Monday -- Inside NEXTEL Cup (7 p.m. ET) with Allen Bestwick, Michael Waltrip, Johnny Benson and Ken Schrader reviewing the weekend's action.
Monday -- SPEED Channel's reality series NBS 24/7 (8 p.m. ET) as it follows NASCAR Busch Series race teams from FitzBradshaw Racing (Casey Atwood, Tim Fedewa, Randy LaJoie), Akins Motorsports (Kasey Kahne) and Braun Racing (David Stremme).
"A lot happens once we go beyond 500 miles." -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., on the Coca-Cola 600.
"It is a long night, but in all reality it's only another half hour or 45 minutes of racing [compared to most races]. You really don't notice it." -- Tony Stewart, on the Coca-Cola 600's length.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The Coca-Cola 600 was first run in 1960 under the name World 600. It was billed as the "world's longest and most grueling late model stock car race." Not much has changed in the last 44 years. It's still the longest race on the circuit and certainly one of the toughest. To win this event is a true test of man and machine; to win two in a row is a special accomplishment.
The first driver to turn the trick was Buddy Baker. He won back-to-back 600s in 1972 and '73. Baker drove Dodges to both wins, wheeling a Petty Engineering Dodge in '72 and a Harry Hyde-prepared Dodge in '73. Darrell Waltrip next scored repeat wins in '78 and '79 while driving Chevrolets for the DiGard team.
Popular Neil Bonnett won the 1982 Coca-Cola 600 in a Wood Brothers Ford and came back in a RahMoc Chevrolet to win in '83. Waltrip was a repeat winner for a second time in '88 and '89 but he was then driving Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolets.
Chevrolets accounted for the next two repeats with Richard Childress' driver Dale Earnhardt winning in 1992 and '93 and Jeff Gordon winning in '97 and '98 for Hendrick.
What: Coca-Cola 600 (Race No. 12 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
Where: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
When: Sunday, May 30, 7:30 p.m. (ET).
TV: FOX, 7 p.m. (ET).
Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $6,161,379
Race length: 600 miles/400 laps.
Track layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
2003 winner: Jimmie Johnson.
2003 polesitter: Ryan Newman.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,643. 2. Jimmie Johnson 1,603. 3. Jeff Gordon 1,581. 4. Matt Kenseth 1,517. 5. Tony Stewart 1,449. 6. Ryan Newman 1,442. 7. Bobby Labonte 1,430. 8. Kevin Harvick 1,404. 9. Kurt Busch 1,391. 10. Elliott Sadler 1,377.