Richmond: Pre-race news and notes

NEWS OF NOTE * No toying around... NASCAR Busch owner Rick Goodwin will make his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Richmond International Raceway with NASCAR Busch Series sponsor Toys"R" Us and driver Kevin Grubb. It will be the first of a six-race ...


* No toying around... NASCAR Busch owner Rick Goodwin will make his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Richmond International Raceway with NASCAR Busch Series sponsor Toys"R" Us and driver Kevin Grubb. It will be the first of a six-race NASCAR Winston Cup schedule for the full-time NASCAR Busch Series organization. The No. 54 team also will compete at Dover (June 2), Bristol (Aug. 24), Richmond (Sept. 7), Dover (Sept. 22) and Kansas (Sept. 29)."The first month of our Busch Grand National sponsorship with Rick Goodwin has been very successful for Toys"R" Us," Toys"R" Us Chief Marketing Officer Warren Kornblum said."We are all very excited about this step forward for six Winston Cup races. We look forward to our partnership with Kevin, Rick and [crew chief] Tony [Lambert] flourishing as we move together into the Winston Cup Series as well as our continued competition in the Busch Series." Andy Petree Racing will provide the Chevrolet Monte Carlos, along with additional track support, for the NASCAR Winston Cup effort and Lambert will serve as the crew chief. Grubb, a 24-year-old from Bristol, Va., will be making his NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Richmond."I can't even begin to describe how exciting it is going to be making my Winston Cup debut at my hometown track of Richmond International Raceway," Grubb said."Ever since I started racing as a kid, I have wanted to be a Winston Cup driver. I want to thank Toys"R" Us and Rick Goodwin for providing me with this opportunity. I am very lucky to be a Toys" R" Us kid."

* Man of Iron... With his anticipated start in the Pontiac Excitement 400, 45-year-old Ricky Rudd (No. 28 Havoline Ford) will make his 655th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup career start, tying the all-time record established by Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet). Rudd's streak began Jan. 11, 1981 in the then-NASCAR Winston Cup season opener at Riverside International Raceway. "I'm very proud of this record," Rudd said. "To me, it says that I've worked hard and have been determined to do what I'm hired to do each week. Hopefully that says something good about me personally. I love racing and am very proud to be known for such a long run of consecutive races." Coincidentally, Labonte's streak began at Riverside two years earlier, on Jan. 14. His streak ended in 2000 when injuries sustained in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July eventually forced him to sit out the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

* Etc... Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) became the eighth different winner in 10 NASCAR Winston Cup races this season.... Only eight of the 41 Pontiac 400 race winners have come from the pole. The last to do so was Bill Elliott (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) in 1992. He also is the last driver in either NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Richmond to win from the pole of the 16 to do so in the 82 races overall.


* Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) is the victory leader at Richmond among active NASCAR Winston Cup drivers with six. He accomplished the sweep in 1989, won fall races in 1992, 1993 and 1995 and the spring event in 1997. Since his last win in 1997, he has finished in the top five of each Pontiac 400 to date. He was third in 1998, fifth in 1999 and 2000, and third last season. Another win and Wallace will tie Bobby Allison for second in Richmond career victories at seven. Richard Petty is the all-time leader with 13. Wallace has 23 top-10 finishes in 27 career races at Richmond.

* Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford) has finished among the top three in five of his last six appearances in the Pontiac 400. Jarrett won the Pontiac 400 in 1999, finished runner-up in 1996 and' 98, and third in' 97 and 2000. His only absence since 1996 came last year, when he finished 15th.

* Richmond is one of three venues where Tony Stewart (Home Depot Pontiac) has multiple victories, having won the Pontiac 400 last season and the fall event in 1999. Stewart, with 13 career wins, also has won twice in his career at Dover (2000 sweep) and Homestead (1999, 2000). In six races overall at Richmond, he has posted five top-10 finishes.

* Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) has posted 12 top-10 finishes, including a pair of wins, in his 18 races overall at Richmond.


* "If I built a track, I would model it after this one. It's a great facility that offers great racing with more than one groove. You can race side-by-side here lap after lap and the fans really seem to love it." - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) on Richmond International Raceway.

* "It's really frustrating, so that's why we decided to test at Richmond a couple of weeks back. The fact that we were so dominant there in both races last year and walked away empty handed really hurt a lot. We led the things all night long and right at the very end slipped up, finishing third the first race and fifth in the second race. - Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford), who has enjoyed immense success at Richmond but has not won there since 1997.


* The Richmond 250 held in 1968 was the last race held on the half-mile dirt track. The race, which was 250 laps, was won by David Pearson in a Ford. Pearson, who started 16th, averaged 65.217 miles per hour in the win.


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Grubb , Richard Petty , Andy Petree , Bobby Allison , David Pearson