* Bristol race first event to use 2006 owners points to guarantee starting positions * First off-week for NASCAR Busch Series follows Bristol NEWS & NOTES Bristol marks 2006 qualifying cutoff ... Saturday's race will be the sixth of the...
* Bristol race first event to use 2006 owners points to guarantee starting positions
* First off-week for NASCAR Busch Series follows Bristol
NEWS & NOTES
Bristol marks 2006 qualifying cutoff ... Saturday's race will be the sixth of the NASCAR Busch Series season, marking the first event of the year where the top 30 in 2006 owner points are automatically set for qualifying. The first five races of the season used the top-30 owner points from the 2005 season. Owners will have had to attempt every event to date in order to hold a spot in the top 30 heading to Bristol. This week, two cars in the top 30 in owner points for Roush Racing -- the No. 16 FreeCreditReport.com Ford driven by Greg Biffle and the No. 17 Ameriquest Ford of Matt Kenseth -- will have to qualify on time as they have attempted four and three races, respectively, in 2006. Rick Hendrick's No. 57 Chevrolet also is in the top 30, but isn't entered in this event, leaving three slots open to teams to replace those three cars. Tim Sauter (No. 36 Lester Buildings Chevrolet), Mark Green (No. 4 GEICO Dodge) and Stacy Compton (No. 59 Kingsford/Bush's Baked Beans Ford) are guaranteed starting positions at Bristol. Notable drivers who will need to qualify for one of the remaining 12 slots include David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), A.J. Foyt IV (No. 38 Great Clips Dodge) and Aaron Fike (No. 43 Smith Transport Dodge). A past champion's provisional is also available.
"This weekend we have a little less pressure on us since we are now locked in the race," said Todd Kluever (No. 06 3M Ford).
"Having to qualify for this race on time would have been really tough since there are so many cars separated by only hundredths of seconds. Now we can spend more time working on our race set-up during practice and not have to be as concerned about making sure we get in the race. A huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders having those first five races behind us."
Steve Wallace set for first 2006 series start ... He may have a long way to go to match his dad's output at Bristol -- Rusty Wallace had nine wins in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition -- but Steve Wallace (No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge) is happy to begin cementing his own legacy at the track. The 18-year-old Wallace made his series debut last year at Memphis, starting 11th and finishing 15th. He shares the No. 64 Dodge -- which his father owns -- with Jamie McMurray and has a qualifying spot locked at Bristol thanks to the team's third-place standing in the owner points. The younger Wallace, who will race against his uncle Kenny (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) -- Steve won the family race at Memphis as Kenny finished 18th last October -- has a victory at Bristol, winning the first-ever UARA late model race there in 2004.
"There's no way you couldn't be excited about this," he said. "I've raced at Bristol three times now and I've won, crashed and [was] in contention to win there last year. Obviously, I'm where I am because of my father. He's won a ton of races and he's one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. You're not real smart if you can't take advantage of that. It's great being Rusty Wallace's son, but what I want more than anything is for people to say one day, 'There's Steve Wallace, a really good race car driver,' instead of saying, 'There's Steve Wallace, Rusty's kid."
Matt McCall debuts at Bristol ... Add another name to the impressive list of young drivers who have made their way in the NASCAR Busch Series -- Matt McCall. The 24-year-old native of Denver, N.C. is scheduled to make his series debut in the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford as a developmental driver for Robert Yates Racing. The car, also shared by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regular Elliott Sadler and 18-year-old Stephen Leicht, is firmly entrenched in the top 30 in owner points, guaranteeing McCall a starting spot in Saturday's race. A finalist last year in Jack Roush's "Gong Show," McCall captured the 2005 UARA-Stars Touring Late Model Division championship. He opened the 2006 season at Daytona International Speedway in ARCA competition, starting and finishing second. When he's not driving, McCall -- who has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from UNC Charlotte -- teaches karate in his hometown. He's a third-degree black belt.
"The most important thing I've learned from martial arts is discipline," McCall said. "It teaches you to be patient, and at Bristol, that can't be a bad thing. If I can bring the [car] home with the fenders on that will bring a smile to everyone's face."
Family feuds fueled at Bristol ... In addition to the Steve Wallace -- Kenny Wallace nephew/uncle rivalry that will begin in earnest at Bristol, there will be a few other "family feuds" on view Saturday. Two sets of brothers will attempt to face each other. The Greens -- David (1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion), Jeff (No. 34 Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly Chevrolet; 2000 series champion) and Mark are entered along with the Sauters -- Jay (No. 01 Western Union Chevrolet), Johnny (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) and Tim. Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest Ford) and Kenny Schrader (No. 66 Yard-Man Ford), who are cousins on Edwards' father's side, also are in the mix. David and Jeff Green and Jay Sauter will have to qualify on time.
IN THE LOOP: Harvick's steady numbers equal dominance at Bristol ... Kevin Harvick's win at this event last year at Bristol was a study in consistency throughout the race as evidenced by NASCAR's Loop Data statistics. Harvick, who started 38th last year, was one of 15 drivers whose Driver Rating was 85 points or better for the event; his rating was 100.4 on the maximum 150-point scale. Seven drivers rated 100 points or higher. Harvick's ability to work his way through the field, especially late in the race, was illustrated by his first-place standing with 25 laps to go and an Average Running Position of 14th, keeping him in contention. Conversely, his teammate Jeff Burton, who started second and finished second just .159-second behind Harvick, had an Average Running Position of third and a race-leading Driver Rating of 137.4, but made only nine passes for position under green while Harvick made 22, third-best among all drivers. For the season, Greg Biffle continues to lead in Average Running Position (5.828) while rookie Burney Lamar remains first among Closers with 23 positions gained this in the last 10 percent of each race. Denny Hamlin has been Trailing at the Finish only a combined 12.804 seconds this year while Kyle Busch, despite being ranked eighth in overall Driver Rating (89.3) stands 18th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings. The data is a new feature from NASCAR in partnership with stat experts STATS LLC to provide in-depth statistical details dealing with more than the race winner. For the complete Loop Data statistics report and a glossary of category terms, go to www.nascarmedia.com.
David Green's strange but true Bristol victory tale ... One of David Green's nine NASCAR Busch Series wins came at Bristol. It also was one his most notable. "No question, one of my most memorable Bristol races was my 1994 victory there when Mark Martin and I had a very odd finish," he said. On April 9, Martin was leading the NASCAR Busch Series race when a caution came out late in the event. It was evident that the race would end under yellow. However Martin, thinking he had won, pulled off the track from Turn 4 and headed to Victory Lane. But there was still one lap to go, and a pleasantly-surprised Green completed that final lap and made his own trip to Victory Lane. Martin was scored as the 11th-place finisher in the official results while Green went on to win the NASCAR Busch Series championship that year. "At Bristol, it's not over until it's over," Green said.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Harry Gant still holds the track record at Bristol, averaging 92.929 mph during his win at the April 4, 1992 Bristol race. ... Jason Keller (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Dodge) is tied for most Busch Poles at Bristol with three; he won from the pole in the spring 1999 event. ... Michael Waltrip's (No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Dodge) will attempt to make his 28th NASCAR Busch Series start at Bristol, which would tie him with Tommy Houston for second all-time at the track. ... Kenny Wallace has the most series top 10s at the track with 17. ... Jeff Green is second all-time with nine top-five finishes in NASCAR Busch Series races at Bristol.
Kevin Harvick has six consecutive top-five finishes at Bristol. Harvick's win last spring came from the 38th starting position, the worst start of a Bristol race winner. ... Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 The Outdoor Channel Chevrolet) will make his 2006 series debut for Kevin Harvick Inc. at Bristol. Hornaday is the fourth driver of the No. 33 Chevy this season, sharing time with the boss, Tony Stewart and Ron Fellows. ... Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's/Shop-Vac Chevrolet) is one of seven drivers attempting to run fulltime in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. "We have a pool going on how much time I'm going to spend in the plane this season," he said of working double duty. "I figure it'll be at least a month total, 31 24-hour days. [But] I'm young. It's been good so far." ... Chevrolet opened a bit of room in the Bill France Performance Cup standings last week with Jeff Burton's (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) win at Atlanta -- his first NASCAR Busch Series victory since 2002. Chevrolet (35 points) comes to Bristol with three wins, two more than second-place Dodge and third-place Ford. Dodge's (31 points) place in the standings is its best since holding second place for one week following the season-opener at Daytona in 2005. Ford has 29 points. Chevrolet has 25 wins in 47 previous NASCAR Busch Series races at Bristol. ... Michael Hodges, shock specialist for Clint Bowyer's No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, is from Abingdon, Va., which is only about twenty miles from Bristol Motor Speedway ... Next week will be the first off-week of the 2006 season for the NASCAR Busch Series.
"I grew up on short tracks, as did most of the other drivers, so short tracks have a special place in our heart. And there is not another short track in the country like Bristol. The banking adds to the excitement but so do all the fans that pack into that place to see a race." -- Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet)
"Simply put, it's like flying an airplane in a gymnasium: fast, 300 laps of on-the-edge, wall-climbing racing. The fans are always second to none at Bristol. If you can't get excited about a Bristol weekend, then you're not a race fan ... period." -- David Green.
"We're better than this. Hopefully we can get it turned around before the championship gets out of reach." -- Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge).
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES 25 SEASONS RUNNING ARCHIVES
The Food City 250, run on August 28, 1992, was the first NASCAR event to be held on Bristol Motor Speedway's new concrete racing surface. The track featured a traditional asphalt surface from the time it opened in 1961. The new concrete was a bold move by track owner Bruton Smith to add a new flavor to the high-banked half-mile track, one of seven tracks that began hosting NASCAR Busch Series races in 1982.
Kenny Wallace won the pole position with a speed of 118.189 mph, surprisingly, three miles an hour slower than Butch Miller's speed of 121.267 mph set in the spring race. Wallace led the first four laps, but a young Jeff Gordon took over for the next 120 laps.
Todd Bodine moved to the lead on Lap 199, before being overtaken by Jeff Burton on Lap 230 of the 250-lap event. Bodine re-captured the lead on Lap 239 and never looked back to pick up the fourth series win of his career.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES 25 SEASONS RUNNING QUOTEABLES
"I love Bristol because it's so fast and exciting." -- Chuck Bown, 1990 NASCAR Busch Series champion, on his favorite track. Bown captured the Busch Pole at Bristol for the 1991 fall race.
Note: A NASCAR Busch Series "25 Seasons Running" Media Kit CD is available at-track each race weekend and also on-line at nascarmedia.com. A CD can also be obtained by contacting NASCAR PR.
ON DECK: TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Following an off-week, the NASCAR Busch Series returns to action on April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne is the defending winner of the O'Reilly 300. Mark Martin has registered three of his NASCAR Busch Series-leading 47 wins at Texas. Jeff Green is the only driver to have won multiple Busch Poles while Jack Roush, with four victories, is the winningest NASCAR Busch Series owner at the 1.5-mile speedway.
What: Sharpie Mini 300 (Race No. 6 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.
When: 3:10 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 25.
Track Layout: .533-mile high- banked oval.
Race Length: 300 laps/159.9 miles.
Posted Awards: $1,434,019.00
TV: FOX, 3:10 p.m., ET.
Radio: PRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Kevin Harvick.
2005 Polesitter: Carl Edwards.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 772. 2. J.J. Yeley 755. 3. Jamie McMurray 698. 4. Clint Bowyer 664. 5. Denny Hamlin 649. 6. Jason Leffler 639. 7. Carl Edwards 614. 8. Burney Lamar 606. 9. Jon Wood 596 10. Greg Biffle 595.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., March 24 -- Practice, 1:45 -- 2:45 p.m.; "Rookie Practice," 3 -- 3:30 p.m.; Final Practice following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Qualifying (one hour, time permitting) Sat., March 25 -- Qualifying, 12:05 p.m. (Impound).