NEWS & NOTES, Richmond * Charting the NASCAR Top 10 ... After 10 races this season, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) heads the NASCAR Top 10 for the seventh consecutive race, 44 points ahead of second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No....
NEWS & NOTES, Richmond
* Charting the NASCAR Top 10 ... After 10 races this season, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) heads the NASCAR Top 10 for the seventh consecutive race, 44 points ahead of second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet). ... Fifth-place Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and sixth-place Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) are the only drivers who have been in the NASCAR Top 10 every week this season. ... Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) is this week's big gainer; Labonte finished second at California to move up to No. 8 in the NASCAR Top 10, an advancement of three positions. ... Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), the NASCAR Preseason Poll No. 1 pick by media nationwide, remains third this week in the NASCAR Top 10.
* Rusty Wallace wants more than a milestone ... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) is set to make his 600th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup start, Saturday night at Richmond. It's a daunting streak, second only to Ricky Rudd's (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) 690. Wallace, though, is more concerned about ending another streak. He hasn't won a race since April 29, 2001 at California -- 72 races ago. In Wallace's corner this week is his rich history at Richmond. He leads active drivers in Richmond wins, with six. During the 72-race dry spell, Wallace still has been extremely competitive; he has recorded 14 top-five finishes, which include four seconds, three thirds and three fourths. His record during that span has produced a total of 28 top-10 finishes and shows that he has led laps in 21 of those races.
* The people speak: Richmond asks fans to choose best race ... Richmond International Raceway is asking race fans to determine the best race the track has hosted in its 50 years of staging NASCAR Winston Cup Series events by logging onto www.rir.com. Fans have four races to choose from and voting ends on Friday; the winning race will be announced during Saturday's pre-race ceremonies. Many former drivers and legends who raced or helped shape the history of the track are scheduled to participate in the ceremony, including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip, Dave Marcis and Junie Donlavey. The events that fans have to choose from are: The Capital City 500, Sept. 10, 1972, when Petty won his fifth consecutive Richmond race; the Miller High Life 400, Feb. 23, 1986, when Kyle Petty got his first series victory; the Miller Genuine Draft 400 on Sept. 7, 1991, when Harry Gant won the second of four consecutive races en route to earning his nickname "Mr. September"; and the Chevy Monte Carlo 400 on Sept. 8, 2001, when Ricky Rudd outdueled Kevin Harvick down the stretch for the win.
* Blaney busy: Double-duty slated for Richmond weekend ... Dave Blaney (No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford) had an extraordinary racing regimen when he was on the World of Outlaws sprint car circuit, racing more than 80 times a year. Which means he should have no trouble handling his 2003 schedule addition of 10 NASCAR Busch Series races in the No. 31 Whelen Ford owned by Ted Marsh. The addition starts Friday at Richmond, with the Hardee's 250.
* Power in the pits: No. 18 crew wins weekly competition ... The pit crew of Bobby Labonte's No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet won the McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship weekly award at California Speedway. The No. 18, which finished second in the race, spent a total of 216 seconds in the pits. The No. 18 team got $20,000. The crew of race winner Kurt Busch (No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford) finished second with 218 seconds of pit time. And John Andretti's (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge) appearance in the top 10 at California -- an eighth-place finish -- can be credited partially to his crew, which finished third in the competition with 220 seconds. ... In the season's overall standings
the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet crew for Michael Waltrip leads with 362 points. The No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second with 349. The No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet crew of Robby Gordon is third with 330. The overall pit crew title pays $200,000 at season's end.
* Earnhardt remembered ... Taking the lead of North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, several states proclaimed today (April 29) "Dale Earnhardt Day", honoring the birthday of the late, seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion. In addition to North Carolina, four other states passed proclamations: South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Virginia. "I'm very honored that so many states have chosen to honor Dale by proclaiming Dale Earnhardt days," said Teresa Earnhardt from the Dale Earnhardt Inc. headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. "No matter where we went across the country, people loved and respected Dale. This is a way they can reflect on what he means to them and remember what he stood for. It's also worth noting that the spectacular things he accomplished in these states as well as many others continue to inspire people to pursue their American dream."
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) finished second in both of his Richmond races in his rookie season in 2002. ... Newman's Penske Racing teammate Rusty Wallace has led 3,023 laps, the most among active drivers at Richmond. Wallace has an 8.4 starting average and a 9.0 finishing average in his 38 Richmond races, the only driver with more than 20 starts who has single-digit averages. ... Matt Kenseth won the 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond last September from a 25th-place starting position, the lowest starting position of a race winner in 64 Richmond races since Richard Petty won the 1971 Richmond 500 from 28th.
* "Like I said, it's not like we just laid down, rolled over and played dead." -- Rusty Wallace, putting his 72-race winless streak in perspective, noting he has been a contender in many of those events.
* "This is racing -- you can't be perfect every week -- although it would be nice because we really, really try." -- Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford).
* It's a Saturday night race under the lights, and a Saturday night at the races is always a good time." -- Bill Elliott (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).
* "Throughout [this season] I've become more patient. But more things keep happening to us like Sunday, so it might appear differently." -- Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), talking about his last-lap accident at California Speedway last Sunday.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Richard at Richmond.
There was a time when it just sounded right.
During Richard Petty's heyday, his name and racing at Richmond were synonymous. Petty competed in 63 races at Richmond, more than any other driver. Petty won 13 races (21%), scored 34 top fives (54%) and 41 top 10s (65%) in those 63 races. He led 5,128 laps at Richmond with a 10.4 starting average and an average finish of 9.1.
Pontiac Excitement 400 (Race 11 of 36 in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series).
Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Race: 7:30 p.m. (ET) May 3.
TV: FX, 7 p.m. (ET).
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice, 11:20 a.m.-1:20 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:05 p.m. Practice, 4:45-5:30 p.m. and 6:10-6:55 p.m.