Michigan: News of note, schedule

NEWS & NOTES TV Timeout ... The final overnight rating for the Pocono 500, broadcast last Sunday by FOX, was a 5.1, an 11% increase from 2002 and a 19% increase from 2001. (Figures from Nielsen Media Research and FOX.) Pocono's 11% growth...


TV Timeout ... The final overnight rating for the Pocono 500, broadcast last Sunday by FOX, was a 5.1, an 11% increase from 2002 and a 19% increase from 2001. (Figures from Nielsen Media Research and FOX.) Pocono's 11% growth matches Rockingham as the biggest year-to-year gain for any FOX NASCAR race this year. Substantial gains were posted in major markets such as Baltimore (+104%), St. Louis (+89%), New York (+82%), Milwaukee (+74%), Chicago (+57%) and Minneapolis (+49%).

Charting the NASCAR Top 10: Kenseth in control ... Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) has now been No. 1 in the NASCAR Top 10 for 11 consecutive weeks (since Atlanta) and has been in the NASCAR Top 10 for 13 of this season's 14 weeks of racing. Kenseth leads second place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) by 176 points. ... There were two changes after Pocono -- one exit, one arrival. Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) returned to the NASCAR Top 10 while Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) dropped out. Marlin replaced Gordon in 10th place.

Stewart to race at Blaney's short track ... Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Dave Blaney (No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford) will race V-8 Modifieds on Thursday night at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio. Blaney and other family members own Sharon Speedway, but that didn't help either driver last year when they also raced at the three-eighths-mile dirt track; Blaney finished second in the feature race while Stewart finished fourth. "I'm looking forward to a little redemption this year -- and I know Tony is as well," Blaney said. ... Prior to racing, Blaney, Stewart, Stewart's crew chief Greg Zipadelli and FOX pit reporter Matt Yocum will sign autographs to raise money for Zipadelli's children's charity, "Zippy's Crusade for Kids."

Pocono Pitting: Weekly McDonald's/POWERade competition won by Bodine's crew ... The pit crew for Todd Bodine's No. 54 National Guard Ford won the weekly McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship at Pocono -- worth $20,000. The No. 54 spent 237 seconds in the pits, lowest among teams competing in the program. A close second was the crew of Elliott Sadler's No.38 M&M's Ford, with 238 seconds.

Balancing act: Competitive balance reaching new level ... The record for different race winners in a NASCAR Winston Cup season -- 19, set in 2001 -- obviously is in jeopardy. After 14 races this season there have been 12 different winners. Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford) and Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) are the only repeat winners. When considering the possibility of the record being broken, it's important to note that drivers such as Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge), Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) and Jeff Burton (No. 99 CITGO Ford) have yet to win this season.

Army anniversary on Father's Day ... The U.S Army will celebrate its 228th anniversary at Michigan International Speedway. A pre-race patriotic display is scheduled, including members of the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne and the Military District of Washington. The show will include a jump by the U.S Army Golden Knights Parachute Team.

Earnhardt concert update. ... A limited-edition Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert guitar is part of the special Platinum Ticket package for concert-goers attending the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert on Saturday, June 28, at Daytona International Speedway. The custom-made Epiphone Gibson Guitar displays the concert logo in addition to highlighting Dale Earnhardt's seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships. Ticket sales from the concert will benefit the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, which Teresa Earnhardt established to carry on her husband's name and aid charitable causes he helped during his life. Platinum Ticket holders will have seats in the VIP area at the start-finish line, giving them access to stage-side seating. All-day admission to the Platinum Hospitality area is included along with parking in the infield of the legendary Daytona International Speedway. In addition, Platinum Ticket holders will get a complimentary ticket to the Kraft/Nabisco Pole Night for the following week's Pepsi 400. Heading the concert bill will be Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney,

Sheryl Crow, the Goo Goo Dolls, Hootie & The Blowfish and a special guest appearance by Delbert McClinton. Tickets are available through www.daleearnhardtinc.com, www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster charge by phone. For more information on the concert, visit www.daleearnhardtinc.com.


Bill Elliott (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) leads all active drivers with seven NASCAR Winston Cup victories at Michigan. Six of Elliott's seven Michigan wins came in an eight-race span from 1984-1989. ... Jeff Burton (No. 99 CITGO Ford) has eight top-10 finishes in 18 races at MIS and is the only active driver with 10 or more starts who has not posted a DNF there. ... Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) has 22 top-10 runs at Michigan, including one victory, in 52 races. He has finished eighth or better, including back-to-back runner-up finishes, in three of the past five events at MIS. ... Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) has collected 10 top-10 finishes at MIS, including a victory, in 35 races and has finished sixth or better in three of the past four events. ... Grand Rapids, Mich. native Johnny Benson (No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac) has six top-10 finishes in 14 races at his "home track," including four of the past five races.


"It had been a long time coming." -- Tony Stewart, on winning his first 2003 race last Sunday at Pocono.

"I call Michigan a 'groovy' track because you can run any where you want on the track." -- Kenny Wallace (No. 23 Stacker2 Dodge).

"I've told people when I was growing up if I got in trouble I had to go to the track to watch my Dad race. When my sister got in trouble they made her stay home. So I watched plenty of his races and he has watched me race a lot as well. What can you say about your Dad other than if it wasn't for him you sure wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have the career success that I had. I think he's about the most important person in my racing career." -- Johnny Benson, on the influence of his father John Benson, a great modified racer.


David Pearson leads all drivers with nine NASCAR Winston Cup victories at Michigan. He also collected 10 poles at MIS and won four times from the pole, more than any other driver. Among his 105 NASCAR Winston Cup career wins, Pearson's success at Michigan International Speedway was second only to his 10 victories at Darlington.


Sirius 400.
Michigan International Speedway; Brooklyn, Mich.

Race: 1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 15.
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. ET.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying, 3:05 p.m. Saturday--Practice, 9:30-10:15 a.m.; 11:10-11:55 a.m.


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Johnny Benson , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin , David Pearson