BUSCH: Bristol: News of note, schedule

* Rookie, first-year fulltime drivers making impression in Top 10 * TV numbers strong to start 2005 season NEWS & NOTES Rookie, first-year drivers are a factor ... Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) and Reed Sorenson (No. 41 ...

* Rookie, first-year fulltime drivers making impression in Top 10
* TV numbers strong to start 2005 season


Rookie, first-year drivers are a factor ... Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) and Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) are one-two in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, the first time since the inception of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year program in 1989 that two rookies stand atop the rankings. Edwards is 95 points ahead of Sorenson in the driver point standings entering Bristol and 19 points up in the rookie of the year rankings. Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) is eighth in the points this week giving three of the top-10 spots to rookies. Sorenson's first career series victory last Saturday at Nashville also kept alive two different streaks held by series rookies -- it was the second consecutive event where a rookie won his first career race after also winning the Busch Pole and the second week in a row where a rookie sat on the pole. Edwards had accomplished both feats the week before at Atlanta. A rookie driver has won three of the season's six poles. In addition to the rookies, first-year fulltime driver Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) is third in the points, 29 behind Sorenson. Bowyer, who like Edwards, Sorenson and Hamlin will be making his first career series start at Bristol, has three top-10 finishes in his first five races this season. Bowyer also has the best average start (7.0) among NASCAR Busch Series drivers this year.

NASCAR Busch Series TV numbers continue upswing ... The 2005 season has been a banner one thus far for the NASCAR Busch Series, and the broadcasts through the first six races of the year on FOX and FX are prime examples. Last Saturday's Pepsi 300 at Nashville broadcast on FX registered a 25% increase in households (1,261,000) over the 2004 Bristol race, (1,007,000) which aired on FX during the same weekend last year. Viewers of the Nashville event increased 17% (1,654,000) over the same race weekend one year ago at Bristol (1,416,000). Through the first five races of 2005 versus the same number of races last year, an average of 2.6 million households -- an increase of 44% over 2004 -- and 3.7 million viewers -- up 43% -- had tuned in to each series event.


There are 13 former NASCAR Busch Series race winners at Bristol entered in the Sharpie Professional 250 -- 10 of those drivers have one win in the spring event, including defending race and series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), who won his first career race last April. Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Reese's Chocolate Lovers Chevrolet), the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion, is the leading active driver in wins at Bristol with three; Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Waste Management Ford), Steve Grissom (No. 49 Advil Ford), the 1993 series champion and Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Chevrolet) have two wins each. ... Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) has the most Busch Poles among active drivers with three. He is the only driver to have won from the pole in the spring event (1999). ... Dale Jarrett (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) is tied with Tommy Houston for the most series races at Bristol (28). ... Jarrett (11) has the most top-five finishes at Bristol while Kenny Wallace owns the most top-10 finishes (17). ... Harvick has led the most races (eight) at Bristol -- he has competed in 10 events.


Reed Sorenson's first career win last Saturday at Nashville was also the first 2005 win for Dodge in the new Charger, allowing Dodge to climb back into the race for the Bill France Performance Cup. Ford leads the manufacturer's standings entering Bristol with three wins and 43 points, however, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 24 victories at the vaunted short-track. Chevy is second in the standings with two wins and 40 points, while Dodge is third with one win and 31 points. ... Five NASCAR Busch Series regulars will attempt to qualify for Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Bristol -- Stanton Barrett, Carl Edwards, Shane Hmiel (No. 32 WINFUEL Chevrolet), Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet) and Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Miccouskee Dodge). Edwards leads the NASCAR Busch Series point standings and is third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rankings. ... Mike Wallace will drive the No. 6 Country Crock Dodge for Ray Evernham at Bristol; Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne have driven the No. 6 Dodge the past two races. ... Greg Biffle (No. 66 Subway Ford) set the series qualifying record at Bristol last spring, topping the charts at 127.132 mph. Ironically, Biffle broke the previous record of 126.495 mph set by his current teammate, David Green (No. 27 KLEENEX Ford). ... Reigning NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., 1992 series champion Joe Nemechek (No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) and Brandon Miller (No. 21 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet) are scheduled to test at Texas on Wednesday in advance of the April 16 race.


"Bristol is like the world's largest television studio and it gives fans all over the country some of the best 'reality TV' they will ever see. A half-mile, high-banked track that is a giant bowl, surrounded by giant towers of grandstands ... if the ancient Romans had been thinking, they would have built Bristol instead of the Coliseum." -- Stanton Barrett (No. 36 DCT Motorsports Chevrolet)

"It's unbelievable, just mind-boggling all the people that are packed in there. You can hear the roar of the crowd over the cars. That's impressive. I think our fans are awesome, loyal fans and what better place to have them than at Bristol. When the checkered flag falls and the winner pulls up on that building and the people go nuts, that's what it is all about." -- Clint Bowyer

"When we tested here last week, the first thing my crew chief told me was to remember to breathe. After the first five-lap run, I came in, felt a little funny, then realized I not taken a breath in a minute-and-a-half. Once you remind yourself to do that, it's great." -- Denny Hamlin


Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted the NASCAR Busch Series since 1982, the series' inaugural season. The official name of the series at that time was the Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Division. Bristol's Southeastern 150, held on March 13, was the third race on the schedule.

David Pearson, making one of his rare Late Model Sportsman appearances, won the pole in a Pontiac. Jack Ingram started on the outside of the front row. A field of 30 cars took the green flag with the lead swapping six times among four drivers. Pearson, Ingram, Dale Earnhardt and Phil Parsons each took a turn at the front of the pack. Pearson led 90 of the 150 laps, but it was Parsons who led the last 11 and claimed his first career series victory, beating Pearson by .047 second.

Parsons completed the race in just 59 minutes, 18 seconds with an average speed of 80.848 mph. Ingram would win the fall event at Bristol that season, while Earnhardt won the spring, 1988 event. Pearson did not win at Bristol competing in the NASCAR Busch Series, but he was victorious there five times in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition.


What: Sharpie Professional 250 (Race No. 7 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.
When: 2:05 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 2.

Track Layout: 0.533-mile oval.
Race Length: 250 laps/133.25 miles.

Posted Awards: $1,232,620.

TV: FOX, 2 p.m., ET.
Radio: PRN, XM Satellite.

2004 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
2004 Polesitter: Greg Biffle.

NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Carl Edwards 955. 2. Reed Sorenson 860. 3. Clint Bowyer 831. 4. Martin Truex Jr. 789. 5. Ashton Lewis Jr. 721. 6. Kenny Wallace 714. 7. Kevin Harvick 690. 8. Denny Hamlin 676. 9. David Stremme 658. 10. Shane Hmiel 647.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday: Practice -- 1:40 -- 3:00 p.m.; Final practice -- 4 -- 5:00 p.m. Saturday: Qualifying, 11:35 a.m.; cars impounded following qualifying.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , David Green , Shane Hmiel , Johnny Sauter , Kasey Kahne , Steve Grissom , Martin Truex Jr. , Stanton Barrett , Paul Menard , Ray Evernham , Phil Parsons , Carl Edwards , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Ashton Lewis , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , David Pearson