NEWS & NOTES * Charting the NASCAR Top 10: Kenseth boosts lead ... Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has been No. 1 in the NASCAR Top 10 for nine consecutive weeks (since Atlanta) and has been in the NASCAR Top 10 for 11 of this ...
NEWS & NOTES
* Charting the NASCAR Top 10: Kenseth boosts lead ... Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has been No. 1 in the NASCAR Top 10 for nine consecutive weeks (since Atlanta) and has been in the NASCAR Top 10 for 11 of this season's 12 weeks of racing. Kenseth got a huge boost at the Cola-Cola 600. He finished second while second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) finished 41st. That amounted to a 140-point difference that gave Kenseth a 160-point lead over Earnhardt coming into Dover. ... Fifth-place Jimmie Johnson and seventh-place Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) are tied for the lead, for most weeks in the NASCAR Top 10, at 12 each.
* Evernham back on race track ... NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owner (No. 9 and No. 19 Dodges) Ray Evernham will participate in a special match race at Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway, a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series facility, on Saturday. Evernham is scheduled to drive a Dodge in a Modified class 12-lap match race against Martin Truex Jr. -- from Mayetta, N.J. -- who races regularly in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series.
"Dodge has been a great supporter of my efforts in Winston Cup racing," Evernham said. "When they asked me to help support the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I've always threatened the guys that I might get back behind the wheel some day and now I have the chance. Not only that, but I get to do it in front of my hometown crowd. It should be pretty exciting."
Evernham, a Hazlet, N.J. native, started his racing career at Wall Township Speedway and won the track's Modern Stock championship in 1977. He went on to win numerous Modified races before leaving competition to become a crew chief and car owner. Evernham was crew chief for Jeff Gordon during three NASCAR Winston Cup championship seasons (1995, '97, '98). Evernham was the point man for Dodge's heralded return to NASCAR Winston Cup in 2001.
* McDonald's/POWERade pit competition won by Jarrett's crew ... Amid a somewhat disappointing season, Dale Jarrett and his team have something to build upon. At the Coca-Cola 600, the pit crew of the No. 88 UPS Ford won the weekly McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship, worth $20,000. Jarrett spent 286 seconds in the pits, the least amount of pit time among teams competing in the program. The crew of Michael Waltrip leads the program's season standings.
* Walk for charity set for Dover ... The NASCAR Fun Walk on Track for Charity will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. at Dover International Speedway. Walkers will pay $25, with monies benefiting the Victory Junction Gang and Speedway Children's Charities. The portion going to Speedway Children's Charities will in turn go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware. Early registration for the walk is available at www.speedwaycharities.org.
* Competitive balance reaching new level ... The record for different race winners in a NASCAR Winston Cup season -- 19, set in 2001 -- could be in jeopardy before much longer. After 12 races this season there have been 11 different winners. Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford) is the only repeat winner, having won at Bristol and California.
* NASCAR drivers in bass-fishing competition ... The second annual CITGO Jeff Burton Celebrity Challenge is set for June 4, pairing NASCAR drivers and professional BASS anglers in a made-for-television event. The fishing competition will be held on Bay Lake in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (near Orlando); there also will be on-track exhibitions at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway. The activities will be shown in an hour-long show on ESPN2 during the CITGO Bassmaster Classic week (July 28-Aug. 3) that will be hosted in New Orleans. NASCAR drivers competing are Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Jeff Green, Hank Parker Jr. and Carl Edwards. BASS anglers involved are Kevin VanDam, Gerald Swindle, Jay Yelas, Marty Stone, Jimmy Mize and Shaw Grigsby.
Burton and VanDam were paired together in order to defend their 2002 title. Last year the team caught a combined total of six fish that weighed a total of 14 pounds, seven ounces. The teams will compete for the crystal Jeff Burton Celebrity Challenge trophy. As well, the winning team has a $10,000 donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association made in their name on behalf of CITGO.
Each team will bring their six-fish limit (three fish each) to the final weigh-in, which will be held at noon on June 4 at the Orlando Bass Pro Shops store. Fans are welcome to attend.
* Etc. ... When Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to finish the Coca-Cola 600, it ended a 35-race streak of him running at the finish. His last previous DNF had come at -- of all places -- the 2002 Coca-Cola 600. ... The Winston Leader Bonus will be worth $130,000 at Dover. The award is paid if the race winner also is the series point leader. Matt Kenseth is the only driver with a chance to win the bonus at Dover. If he doesn't collect, another $10,000 will be added and the award will be $140,000 at Pocono Raceway on June 8. ... Dale Jarrett's ninth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was his first top-10 finish since he won the race at North Carolina Speedway in February.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Jimmie Johnson obviously is the man at Dover, based on last season, but many others have had plenty of success on "The Monster Mile." Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Bill Elliott (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) lead all active drivers in Dover victories with four apiece. Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) and Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) follow with three each. ... Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) has two Dover victories; they came in 2002 when Stewart pulled off his own season sweep.
* "The thing I've learned is that when you have a good-handling car it's never as tiring as an ill-handling one." -- Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline Dodge).
"It's hard to stay upbeat, but we're going to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this week to test, and then we'll head to Dover and hopefully we can put a hurtin' on them up there." -- Greg Zipadelli, crew chief for reigning NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart.
* "For a track its size, it's amazing how important qualifying at Dover has become. Most of your race winners start up front. We look at it as the race starts on Friday." -- Johnny Benson (No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac).
* "Before that weekend, I had only raced the track on a computer game." -- Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), talking about his first race at Dover (NASCAR Busch Series, June 200) when we took the pole position.
* "[Dover], it's just a big Bristol, really." -- Harvick, describing the challenge presented by the Dover layout.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Who's the best NASCAR Winston Cup driver ever at Dover?
Many would say David Pearson.
The three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion is the all-time leader in poles at The Monster Mile, with six. He is second all-time in victories with five, trailing only Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, who each won seven Dover events.
MBNA Armed Forces Family 400.
Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Race: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 1.
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice, 11:05 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying, 2:35 p.m. Saturday--Practice, 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 11:10-11:55 a.m.