* Mayfield at home at Richmond, amid championship expectations * Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 20 * History lesson: Richmond no stranger to NASCAR's generational milestones NEWS AND NOTES Back to Richmond:...
* Mayfield at home at Richmond, amid championship expectations
* Just ahead: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 20
* History lesson: Richmond no stranger to NASCAR's generational milestones
NEWS AND NOTES
Back to Richmond: Mayfield Returns to Site of Biggest Win ... There are fewer, more daunting obstacles than having to win to move to your sport's next level. Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) answered such a challenge last September at Richmond, when a victory in the fall event was his only opportunity to make the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" field. Mayfield won that race, earning a spot in the inaugural "Chase." Through 10 events. Mayfield is 15th, 386 points behind point leader Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet).
And this week he returns to Richmond as the last driver currently eligible to make the 2005 "Chase."
"Saturday night at a short track," Mayfield said of Saturday's Chevy American Revolution 400. "What could be better?"
This year, Mayfield is working with a new crew chief, Richard "Slugger" Labbe, an ongoing process.
"In the last three to four [races], we've had very good race cars," Mayfield said. "The Evernham [Motorsports] chassis are working well. Slugger and I communicate better each race. He knows what I'm looking for in the handling and I'm giving him the information he needs to make the adjustments to create that feel. When we unload at the track, we can focus on fine-tuning the car and not have to spend all our time trying to get the car balanced."
Mark Your Calendars: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge ... The 21st annual all-star event is Saturday evening, May 21, at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and defending champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford) leads the list of current qualifiers. He's followed by 2004 race winners Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/Travelodge Ford), Kurt Busch (No. Sharpie/IRWIN Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford), Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford), Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Rusty Wallace; 2005 race winners Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet); past event champions Terry Labonte (1999) and Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) (1996); and past series champions Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) and Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford).
Here's a rundown of the format and eligibility requirements:
• The 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge showcases race winners from the previous and current seasons, plus past event champions and series champions from the past 10 years (1995-2005) who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the 2004 or 2005 season. Also eligible:
• The winner of the NEXTEL Open, a preliminary event for teams not qualified for the all-star event, and another NEXTEL Open driver who wins a fan vote into the all-star event.
• To qualify for the NEXTEL Open event, drivers must be in the Top 50 of the final 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, or in the Top 50 of the current point standings as of March 14, 2005.
• The all-star evening begins with the 30-lap NEXTEL Open. The winner, plus the winner of the fan vote, will transfer to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge -- a 90-lap/135-mile event divided into 40-, 30- and 20-lap segments.
• No driver will be eliminated after the first two segments. But during the 10-minute pit stop between the first and second segments, a random drawing will determine whether as few as six or as many as 12 cars will be inverted.
Milestone Marker ... Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford) is scheduled to make his 850th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start on Saturday. He ranks third in all-time starts behind Richard Petty (1,185) and Dave Marcis (883).
All Knotted Up: Chevrolet, Ford Tied for Lead in Series Manufacturers Standings ... After 10 races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, Ford again has tied Chevrolet in the series' Manufacturers Championship standings, with Dodge running third. Greg Biffle's victory last Saturday at Darlington allowed Ford to even things up in wins (five). Chevrolet retains a slight edge (73-71) in points. ... Chevrolet has won the Manufacturers Championship 28 times while Ford has won 15 times; the other 10 years the championship has been awarded, it has been won by Hudson (3), Dodge (2), Buick (2), Oldsmobile (1), Pontiac (1) and Plymouth (1). ... Points are earned thusly: Nine points to the highest-finishing car type; six points to the second-highest finishing type; four points for the third-highest finishing type. ... Chevrolet has won the championship the last two years. ... Jimmie Johnson is currently the leading Chevrolet driver, as the series point leader. Biffle, third in points, is the top Ford driver. Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) is the leading Dodge driver, eighth in the points.
On the Right Track
• Jeff Gordon has three consecutive top-10 finishes at Richmond. No other driver has more than two.
• Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Quality Parts Ford), a Chesapeake, Va., native, leads all active drivers with 52 starts at Richmond.
• Rusty Wallace leads all active drivers with six wins, 21 top-five finishes, 29 top-10 finishes and 3,023 laps led in 42 starts at Richmond.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the defending race champion; he finished second in last fall's Richmond event. He has two wins and eight top-10 finishes in 11 Richmond starts.
Owner Points Update: Top 35 Heading to Richmond ... Beginning in 2005, teams outside the top 35 in owner championship points must qualify on speed for each week's 43 starting spots. The top 35 designation guarantees a spot. Beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 and running through the Bristol race on April 3, the top 35 in 2004 owner points was the yardstick. Beginning with the Martinsville race on April 10, the current top 35 became the yardstick.
From the Archives: Kyle Petty makes family, NASCAR history at Richmond ... On Feb. 23, 1986, Kyle Petty won the Miller High Life 400 to pick up his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup win. More importantly, he became the sport's first third-generation driver to win a race.
Kyle's grandfather, Lee Petty, was a three-time series champion who won the first series race held at Richmond in 1953. Lee Petty, one of NASCAR's pioneers, had a racing career that dated back to 1949. Kyle's father, Richard Petty, is a seven-time series champion who won 13 races at Richmond, the most of any driver.
On that historic February day, Kyle Petty started 12th driving a Wood Brothers Ford Thunderbird. He took the lead for one lap at Lap 273 of the 400-lap event. He stayed near the front of the field for the rest of the race, but was in the right place at the right time at a pivotal point. Two other series champions, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt, were fighting for the lead during the final laps and tangled in Turn 3. Petty snaked through the wreckage and into the lead. He led the final three laps to secure his historic win.
On Deck: Lowe's Motor Speedway ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' 21st annual all-star event is on Saturday, May 21 -- the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Lowe's, a 1.5-mile oval, has been part of the schedule since 1960. It has hosted the non-points all-star event since its 1985 debut; the only exception was 1986, when the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. ... Matt Kenseth is defending champion.
The race: Chevy American Revolution 400. (Race No. 11 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
The track: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va. (three-quarters mile oval.)
The date/time: Saturday, May 14, 7:35 p.m. (ET).
TV: FX, 7 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $4,887,667.
Race length: 400 laps, 300 miles.
Track layout: .75-mile oval.
2004 winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2004 polesitter: Brian Vickers.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 1,519. 2. Jeff Gordon 1,392. 3. Greg Biffle 1,371. 4. Kurt Busch 1,290. 5. Elliott Sadler 1,267. 6. Mark Martin 1,226. 7. Tony Stewart 1,222. 8. Jamie McMurray 1,217. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,212. 10. Ryan Newman 1,205.