AARON FIKE 43 Smith Transport/Curb Agajanian Performance Group Dodge FAST FACTS * Aaron Fike, driving the ...
AARON FIKE 43 Smith Transport/Curb Agajanian Performance Group Dodge
* Aaron Fike, driving the #43 Smith Transport/Curb Agajanian Performance Group Dodge, will attempt to make the 43rd NASCAR Busch Series start of his career and his first on the half-mile high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway concrete oval at Saturday's Sharpie Mini 300. He's hoping his extensive short-track experience (back-to-back USAC Midget Driver of the Year in 2002-03; USAC Midget Series and Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year in 2000-01, respectively) pays off this weekend.
* Last weekend at Hampton, Ga., the 23-year-old from Galesburg, Ill., qualified 19th and brought home a 26th-place finish in the #43 CAPG Dodge in his first career start on the Atlanta Motor Speedway mile-and-a-half quad oval.
* While this weekend marks Fike's first-ever appearance at "Thunder Valley," the CAPG team has made a habit of recording top NBS finishes on the challenging, high-banked circuit. Brothers Jay and Johnny Sauter scored top-10s on three occasions in recent years. Jay was sixth after qualifying 13th in 2000, and he came home 10th in 2001. Johnny was 10th in the 2003 race here. Last season, Jeff Green drove the #43 CAPG Dodge to top-20 finishes in both races here -- 20th in the spring race and 18th after qualifying 10th last August.
* Fike, who entered 2006 with 37 career NBS starts the previous two seasons, is in the midst of his first full-time NBS season. He opened this year's campaign with a front-row qualifying effort at Daytona before being taken out early in the race by another competitor who blew a tire.
* On board with the #43 CAPG Dodge team for the second week in a row is Smith Transport, the Roaring Spring, Pa.-based trucking firm. Its national "Driver of the Year," Brian Musselman of New Enterprise, Pa., served as honorary crew member during last Saturday's Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
AARON FIKE QUOTES ON BRISTOL -- "I've been looking forward to racing at Bristol for a long time. I'm really not sure what to expect, since it's my first time there. I think it'll be tough on all the first-timers. I hope all my years short-track racing will make a difference, but you never know. It's a 'go-or-go-home' (qualifying) weekend for us, which means the pressure's on. But the guys put a lot of pressure on themselves with their pit work last weekend at Atlanta, and they made six flawless pit stops. That was great. Plus, the team has done pretty well at Bristol the last several years. That will hopefully mean good things for us again this weekend. "