NEWS OF NOTE * Rousing Roush return... NASCAR Winston Cup Series owner Jack Roush made his first appearance at a race last week at Dover since sustaining serious injuries in an April 19 private plane crash in Alabama. Roush, 60, walked through...
NEWS OF NOTE
* Rousing Roush return... NASCAR Winston Cup Series owner Jack Roush made his first appearance at a race last week at Dover since sustaining serious injuries in an April 19 private plane crash in Alabama. Roush, 60, walked through the paddock on crutches as his broken left leg continues to heal and was greeted by numerous well-wishers and a"Welcome Back" banner. His NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series teams also presented him with a few"welcome back" gifts in the form of a NASCAR Busch Series victory by Greg Biffle (No. 60 Grainger Ford) and the NASCAR Winston Cup pole by Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford)."I can't say how excited I am to be back in the fray -- to be able to smell the gas, to be able to hear the keyboards being hit here in the press room," Roush said in a press conference over the Dover weekend. "I had a really bad situation that was maybe exaggerated a little bit... but I had something that gave me pause -- that certainly put me down for a period of time so I had time to reflect on my life and the things that I'd done and the things that I'd still like to do and to feel some joy and some appreciation for the fact that I've got a chance to keep going. But for all the things that happen at the race tracks and for all the things that happen in this great industry that we're all a part of, I've really missed it and I can't tell you how glad I am to be back."
* Etc.... Kenseth's first career NASCAR Winston Cup Series pole last week at Dover made him the eighth different Bud Pole winner in 13 events. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), the Raybestos rookie of the year points leader, is pacing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with three poles.... Hermie Sadler is expected to substitute again for Rick Mast in the No. 90 Duke's Mayonnaise/Sauer's Ford for this weekend's Pocono 500. Mast has missed the past two events due to fatigue and weight loss and has no current timetable for a return.... Following a nine-race absence, Todd Bodine returned at Dover as Haas-Carter Motorsports secured a six-race deal with Discover Card for the No. 26 Ford. Bodine finished 18th. Bodine and Haas-Carter Motorsports are entered in the Pocono 500.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) has won two of the last four Pocono 500 races and his wins have come in even years (1998, 2000). In the odd years, he has finished 36th (2001) and ninth (1999).
* Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac) has won three of the last six NASCAR Winston Cup races contested at Pocono Raceway. He enjoyed a sweep in 1999-- winning the Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500-- and won the Pennsylvania 500 again last year. He also has a pair of top-10 finishes during that stretch, finishing sixth in the Pennsylvania 500 in 2000 and eighth in the Pocono 500 last season.
* Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra/Pfizer Ford) has seven top-five finishes in his last eight Pocono 500 starts, including the last six in a row. He has finished fifth the last four years, fourth in 1996 and' 97, and fifth again in' 94. The only year he did not finish among the top five during that run was 1995, when he finished 11th.
* Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) has netted a top-three finish in the Pocono 500 the last five years in a row. Jarrett has finished third every year since 1997 with the exception being 2000 when he was runner-up. He has two career wins at Pocono Raceway and both came in the Pennsylvania 500 (1995,' 97)
* Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) has a pair of wins and has finished among the top three in the Pocono 500 in five of the past six seasons. Gordon won the Pocono 500 in consecutive years-- 1996-97-- and finished runner-up in' 98,' 99 and 2001. The streak was interrupted in 2000, when he finished eighth. Gordon has three career victories at Pocono, having won the Pennsylvania 500 in 1998. Overall, he has finished among the top 10 in 12 of his last 13 starts at Pocono.
* Ricky Rudd (No. 28 Havoline Ford) is the defending champion of the Pocono 500, having won from the pole position. It marked only the seventh time in 48 NASCAR Winston Cup events-- and the first time since 1996-- that the winner had come from the pole at Pocono.
WHAT'S THE WORD?
* "Pocono is all about getting through the corners and there are three distinct turns to deal with. So we spent a bunch of time dealing with each corner separately, trying to get as good as possible in all three turns. We really think we'll have something for them this time around and all of our hard work will pay off."-- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford), a four-time winner at Pocono who spent time last week testing at the track with a new (PC-47) race car for the upcoming event.
* "It is going to be a good challenge competing with drivers like Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace who have all had success on this race track. Rudd had an unbelievable run there last season taking the pole and winning the race. Elliott and Wallace really know how to get around Pocono with four wins apiece. If we can stay out of trouble, have strong pit stops like last week and be on the lead lap in the last segment of the race, we'll be in good shape to post a strong finish."-- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), the Raybestos rookie who is currently second in the NASCAR Winston Cup championship and making his first appearance at Pocono.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
* In 1981, Darrell Waltrip became the first driver in a NASCAR Winston Cup race at Pocono Raceway to win from the pole. Waltrip averaged 119.111 miles per hour in a Buick for owner Junior Johnson en route to the win in the Mountain Dew 500. It was the eighth NASCAR Winston Cup race held at Pocono Raceway.